Green’s Dictionary of Slang

mill v.1

also myll
[SE mill, to grind down, to break into small parts]

1. (UK Und.) to steal, to rob, to break open; thus mill a ken ; mill a go, to succeed in a robbery or theft; mill a quod, to break out of prison; milling n., goods worth stealing.

implied in mill a ken
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching n.p.: Yonder dwelleth a quier cuffen it were beneshp to mill him.
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle V i: We mill in deuse a vile.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Beggar’s Bush III iv: To maund on the pad, and strike all the cheats, / To mill from the Ruffmans, Commission and slates.
[UK]J. Taylor Crabtree Lectures 191: Mort. [R]ather then want Rum-peck, or Beane boose, mill the Cacklers, coy the Quack, or Duds.
[UK]Dekker ‘Canters Dict.’ Eng. Villainies (9th edn).
[UK]T. Randolph Hey for Honesty III i: Darkmans for pannum Should the grand Ruffian come to mill me, I Would scorn to shuffle from my poverty.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 50: Mill, To steal.
[UK] Head Canting Academy (1674) .
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] To Mill, to Steal.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 9: They follow’d her a considerable Way before they could agree who should Mill her.
[US]N.Y. Gazette Revived 27 Nov. 2/5: Roach told Kennedy he had mill’d a Pocket-Book, and would have him go along to see what was in it.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 14: We left our Horses in Mount Pleasant, while we went a milling that Swag, i.e., breaking open that Shop. [Ibid.] 43: Mill the Quod; break the Gaol.
[UK] ‘Rolling Blossom’ in Festival of Anacreon in Wardroper Lovers, Rakers and Rogues (1995) 180: To Scamping Sam I gave my hand, / Who milled the blunt and tatlers.
[Ire] ‘De Kilmainham Minit’ Luke Caffrey’s Gost 6: And when dat he mill’d a fat slap, / He me-ri-ly melted de winner, / To snack wid de boys of de Pad* [*footnote: The last Line of every Verse is to be spoken in the Newgate Style].
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]W. Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian (1883) 309: Rat me, one might have milled the Bank of England, and less noise about it.
[UK]Life and Trial of James Mackcoull 5: Mackcoull returned [...] without attempting to queer a stilt, draw a tatler, or mill a wipe.
[UK]‘The St Giles’s Flash Man’ in Facetious Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 250: She pick’d up the fla’s as they passed by, / And I mill’d their wipes from their side clye.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 62: Ancient cant, myll, to rob.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Clarkson & Richardson Police! 346: Good ‘milling,’ i.e. shirts, stockings, silk ‘wipes’ etc., are switched off the line.

2. to smash, to break open, to spoil.

[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 39: Ile myll your maund Ile spoyle your begging.
[UK]Dekker O per se O L3: Another, Mills a Crackmans, breaks a hedge, and that wood heates the Oven.
[UK]Hell Upon Earth 5: Mill, a Chizel, or to break.
[UK]J. Hall Memoirs (1714) 13: Mill, [...] to break.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 43: Mill his Nobb; break his Head.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Mill [...] to break. Cant.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: Mill his nobb break his head.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 181: I’m the boy for a bit of bobbery, / Nabbing a lantern, or milling a pane.

3. to thrash, to fight, to overcome; to hit.

[UK]Dekker ‘Canting Song’ O per se O O2: A canniken, mill quier Cuffin, so quier to ben coues watch.
[UK]Defoe Street Robberies Considered 33: Mill, to beat.
[UK]Harlot’s Progress 39: This said, to shew his Power, he mill’d her, / ’Till Envy, Grief, and Shame had fill’d her.
[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 116: The Devil break your Neck The Ruffin mill your Nob.
[UK]Dyche & Pardon New General Eng. Dict. (5th edn).
[UK]G. Stevens ‘A Cant Song’ Muses Delight 177: While I mill’d his mazzard she snaffl’d his poll.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 176: Now is your time to go and mill him / But if you can, I’d have you kill him.
[UK]Whole Art of Thieving.
[UK] ‘The Bowman Prigg’s Farewell’ in Wardroper (1995) 284: We will mill all the culls with our fibs / And teach them a new morris-dance, sir.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]‘A New Song Called The Mill’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 251: He’s come to mill our champion Cribb.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress xxviii: Thus, to mill, which was originally ‘to rob,’ is now ‘to beat or fight;’ [...] To mill, however, sometimes signified ‘to kill.’ Thus, to mill ableating cheat, i.e. to kill a sheep.
[UK] ‘Life in London’ in C. Hindley James Catnach (1878) 131: Mill the Charlies — oh! what fun.
[UK] ‘The Coalheaver’s Feast’ Fun Alive O! 61: Pulling and tearing, / Tugging and swearing, / Milling away at the Coalheaver’s feast.
[Ire] ‘A Week’s Matrimony’ Dublin Comic Songster 292: Then with tongs she broke my head, / So I went at her left and right, / And we milled each other by Wednesday night.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. III 57: Vot hever you says, is, [...] but I’d just give a mug o’ yale to mill that one-eyed buffer.
[US]G. Thompson Gay Girls of N.Y. 13: Two dashing courtezans, actuated by jealousy, are ‘milling’ each other.
[UK]B. Hemyng Eton School Days 70: Although you are bigger than me, I am not afraid to mill you.
[UK](ref. to 1820s) Glasgow Eve. Citizen 2 July n.p.: We are not sure that [...] we should have much to boast of if the constrast were drawn between, say, street rows and milling a charley.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Mar. 14/3: The big ’un, though short of condition, stuck to his work in manly style, but [...] he spoiled by all through making play, and allowing the little one, who was in tip-top condition, to draw him out and mill on the retreat.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Madness of Private Ortheris’ in Plain Tales from the Hills (1890) 273: I’m too little for to mill you, Mulvaney.
[US]A.H. Lewis Wolfville 139: Stay within whoopin’ distance, though; so if he tries to stampede or takes to millin’ I can get he’p.
[UK]A. Lunn Harrovians 232: That melodramatic little Jew wants to mill me.
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 15: My brother would have milled you with the mawlies. It was only the gloves saved you.
[US]F. Paley Rumble on the Docks (1955) 89: The Diggers and the Stompers were now milling.
[US] ‘Old Zebra Dun’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 81: When the herd stampeded he was Johnnie on the spot, / He could mill a thousand longhorns as easy as you could turn a pot.
[Ire]J. O’Connor Salesman 93: We milled him.
[Ire]G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. [Internet] Millie up! (phr): a fight going to start. Milling (v): fighting.

4. to kill, to murder.

[UK]Dekker O per se O L2: They are sworne neuer to disclose their skill in Canting to any Householder for, if they do, the other Maunderers or Roagues Mill them (kill them).
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK] New Canting Dict. n.p.: Mill, signifies also to [...] kill.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 42: Mill the Cull to his Long Libb; kill the Man dead.
[UK] J. Poulter Whole Art of Thieving Discovered [as cit. 1753].
[UK] ‘Cant Lang. of Thieves’ Monthly Mag. 7 Jan. n.p.: Mill the Cull to his long lib Kill the Man you rob.
[UK]J. Poole Hamlet Travestie III iii: O, let me catch him, and I’ll sweetly mill him.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]A. McCormick Tinkler-Gypsies of Galloway 104: The following words appear to be still in use in one form or another amongst Galwegian tinkler-gypsies – Millin’ in the darkmans – Murder by night.

5. to consume.

[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. n.p.: Wapping and Busing mills all the Lowyer Whoring & drinking consumes all the Money.

In compounds

mill-ken (n.) (also milken)

a housebreaker.

Wandring Whores Complaint 4: The fourth was a Mill-ken to crack up a dore / Hee’l venter to rob both the rich and the poor .
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 50: Milken, One that Breaks houses.
[UK]‘L.B.’ New Academy of Complements 204: The fourth is a Mill-ken, to crack up a Door; / His venture to rob both the Rich and the Poor.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 176: Milken An house breaker.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Milken, c. A house-breaker.
[UK]C. Hitchin Regulator 21: The Golden Ball in Drury-Lane [...] where most of the Milkins and night Files use. [Ibid.] 22: Edward Merrit, A Milken, he has been in Newgate several times.
[UK] ‘The Twenty Craftsmen’ [ballad] in New Canting Dict. n.p.: The fourth was a mill-ken to crack up a door, He’d venture to rob both the rich and the poor.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[UK]Fielding Life of Jonathan Wild (1784) I 117: The same capacity which qualifies a Mill-ken, a Bridle-cull, or a Buttock and File, to arrrive at any degree of eminence in his profession, would likewise raise a man in what the world esteem a more honourable calling.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxvii: A Mill Ken A House-breaker.
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 14 Sept. n.p.: The ‘arch cove’ of the last attempt [to escape prison] is a ‘milken’ named John Smith alias Slim Jim.
[UK] ‘Thief-Catcher’s Prophecy’ in W.H. Logan Pedlar’s Pack of Ballads 143: [as cit. 1725].
[UK]C. Whibley ‘Jonathan Wild’ A Book of Scoundrels 79: He lived on terms of intimacy with the mill-kens, the bridle-culls, the buttock-and-files of London.

In phrases

mill a cly (v.) [cly n. (2)]

(UK Und.) to pick a pocket.

[UK]T. Walker The Quaker’s Opera I iii: Thou fairest Whore That ever grac’d a Bulk, or mill’d a Clie.
[UK]H. Lemoine ‘Education’ in Attic Misc. 116: The boldest lad / That ever mill’d the cly, or roll’d the leer.
[UK] ‘Sonnets for the Fancy’ Egan Boxiana III 622: [as 1791].
[UK]‘Dick Hellfinch’ in Rummy Cove’s Delight in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 105: [as 1791].
mill a ken (v.) [ken n.1 ]

(UK Und.) to rob a house.

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 67: They wyll send them into some house at the window to steale and robbe, which they call in their language, Milling of the ken.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching [as cit. c.1566].
[UK]Dekker Belman’s Second Nights Walk B4: We will filch some duddes Off the Ruffmans Or mil the Ken For a lagge of Duddes.
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle V i: Ben mort, shall you and I heave a bough, mill a ken, or nip a bung.
[UK]Dekker ‘Canting Song’ in Eng. Villainies (8th edn) O: If we niggle or mill a Bowsing Ken, or nip a Boung that hath but a Win.
[UK]Dekker ‘Canters Dict.’ Eng. Villainies (9th edn).
[UK]Catterpillers of this Nation Anatomized 3: There are few (Kens mild) houses broken open, wherein some servant of that house is not an actor.
[UK]W. Winstanley New Help To Discourse 135: Autem Morts, are such as are married, being always attended with children, whom they employ to pilfer away what they can light on, which in their language they call Milling of the Ken.
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Mill a Ken, to rob a House.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Mill-a-ken, c. to Rob a House.
[UK]Hell Upon Earth 5: When we bien back in the Duceavil, then we will flesh some Duds off the Ruffmans, or Mill a Ken.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 196: And Jybe well jerk’d, tick rome conseck, / for back by Glimmar to maund, / To mill each Ken, let Cove bring then, / though Ruffmans Jauge or Laund [A License got with forged Seal, / to Beg, as if undone / By Fire, to break each House and Steal, / o’er Hedge and Ditch to run].
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 16: We made our Way for the City of Cambridge, in order to mill some Ken; that is, to break open some Houses.
[UK]Bloody Register I 125: He took to Milling of Kens (house-breaking) and had not been long in that employment, before he was apprehended and convicted at the Old Bailey.
[UK]J. Fielding Thieving Detected 8: House-Breaking, or, in the flash language, to Mill a Kin [sic].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
milling lay (n.)

(UK und.) the profession of thieving, house-breaking.

[UK]Bacchanalian Mag. 42: I am the Pink of Clerkenwell, / [...] /My Pals are on the milling lay.
mill someone’s glaze (v.) [fig. use of glaze n. (1)]

to knock out someone’s eye.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: I’ll Mill your Glaze, I’ll give you a knock in the Eye. Cant.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: I’ll mill your glaze; I’ll beat out your eye.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Chester Chron. 1 Feb. 3/1: The defendant acknowledged that he had ‘milled’ Mrs Hyam’s ‘glaze’.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 75: They are hammered into a fight [...] mill the glaze, or darken two or three peepers.
mill the glaze (v.) [glaze n.]

(UK Und.) to break a window, esp. as a means of entering a house.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Milling the Glaze, c. Breaking open the Window.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) II.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 284: If you don’t doff your knowledge bag and come to the door, we’ll mill all your glaze.
[US](N.Y) Herald 4 Jan. 2/5: [The men] went into the tavern [...] where they commenced milling the glaze — (breaking windows), upsetting decanters, and shying the tumblers at the persons assembled.
[UK]Bell’s Life in London 10 Feb. 2/1: And home you steer as drunk as blazes, / What can afford such glorious fun, / As smashing lamps and milling glazes!
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]Sun (NY) 10 July 29/4: Here is a genuine letter written in thieves’ slang, recently found by the English police [...] The noise of the milling the glass brought tray flies. She chucked a reeler and was lugged before the beak and fine[d] a bull.