Green’s Dictionary of Slang

nab n.1

also nabe
[ety. unknown; ? link to dial. nab, a projecting lump of rock, a promontory]

1. (UK Und.) the head.

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 82: Nab a head.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching n.p.: Now I tower that bene bouse makes nase nabes.
[UK]Dekker Belman of London (3rd) J3: [as cit. 1592].
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle V i: O I wud lib all the lightmans [...] And couch till a palliard docked my dell, / So my bousy nab might skew rom-bouse well.
[UK]Dekker ‘Why the Staff is called a Filch’ in Eng. Villainies (8th edn) M3: Every one of them carries a short staffe [...] which is called a Filch, having in the Nab or head of it, a Ferme (that is to say a hole).
[UK]Dekker Canters Dict. Eng. Villainies (9th edn).
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 47: We use [...] Nab, a Head.
[UK] ‘The Beggars Curse’ Head Canting Academy (1674) 14: [as cit. 1592].
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Nab, head.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Nab or Head.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 208: Nab [...] head .
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Sporting Mag. May VI 114/2: Nunky pays for we footmen; I’ll, sport a spruce nab.
[UK]Metropolitan Mag. XIV Sept. 334: May I [...] be smothered if I had not sent a bit of blue pigeon through his nabs.

2. (UK Und.) the head of a stick or penis.

[UK]Dekker Canting Song O per se O O3: This cuffin, getting glimmer I’ th’ prat, so cleymed his jockey, The nab was queer, the bube him nipped, His quaroms all was pocky.

3. (UK Und.) a hat.

[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: The Ruffin cly the nab of the Harman beck.
[UK]J. Fletcher ‘Maunder’s Initiation’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 19: Cast your nabs and cares away, / This is maunder’s holiday.
‘Peter Aretine’ Strange Newes 3: Wand. Wh—. I have [...] pickt up many a Dick, and gull’d many a Cully of his Nab, tipt his bung, and sent his Callee to Egypt.
[UK]Head Canting Academy 33: Cast our Nabs and Cares away, This is beggars Holiday.
[UK]T. Shadwell Squire of Alsatia II ii: Here’s a nab! you never saw such a one in your life.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Nab c. a Hat, Cap [...] I’ll Nab ye, c. I’ll have your Hat or Cap. Nim the Nab, c. to Steal the Hat or Cap.
[UK]Farquhar Recruiting Officer II iii: I’se keep on my nab.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) III 595: Nim the Nab. That is steal a man’s hat off his head.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: I have Clickt the Nab from the Cull; I whipt the Hat from the Man’s Head.
[UK]Fielding Life of Jonathan Wild (1784) II 176: Those who preferred the Nab, or trencher-hat with the brim flapping over their eyes.
[UK]G. Stevens ‘A Cant Song’ Muses Delight 177: As I derick’d along to doss on my kin / Young Molly the fro-file I touted, / She’d nail’d a rum codger of tilter and nab, / But in filing his tatler was routed.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Tony Lumpkin in Town (1780) 9: If he wants a coat cut in the kick, who can shew him? I – A tasty nab? Why Tim.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]C. Dibdin ‘Jack in his Element’ in Collection of Songs II 63: Pray how d’ye like my nib, / My trowsers wide, my trampers rum, / My nab, and flowing jib.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.

4. (UK Und.) a coxcomb, a fop.

B.E. Dict.of the Canting Crew.

5. (UK Und.) an important person.

[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 308: The nabs being under way, why, I thought it was my turn to spout a little.

6. (Irish) the devil.

[Ire]Share Slanguage.

7. (Irish) the joker (cards).

[Ire]Share Slanguage.

In compounds

nab cheat (n.) (also nabchet, nob chete) [cheat n. (1)]

(UK Und.) a hat, a cap.

[UK]R. Copland Hye Way to the Spyttel House Eiii: His watch shall feng a prounces nobchete.
[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 82: Nabchet a hat or cap.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching A2: Nabchet, a hat or cappe [...] I towre the strummel trine upon the nabchet and Togman.
[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: Then by ioyning of two simples, doe they make almost all their compoundes. As for example: Nab (in the Canting tongue) is a head, & Nab-cheate, is a hat or a cap.
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 39: Nab cheate an hat.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Beggar’s Bush II i: Thus we throw up our nab-cheats first, for joy, / And then our filches; last we clap our fambles.
[UK]Dekker Eng. Villainies (9th edn) .
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 47: We use [...] Nab, a Head; Nab-cheat, a Hat.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Nab cheat, a Hat, or Cap, &c.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 17: A Hat – Nab-cheat.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Nab cheat, a Hat. Cant.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
nab girder (n.) (also nab garder, nob girder) [SE gird]

(UK Und.) a bridle.

[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Nab-girder c. A Bridle.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 15: A Bridle – Nabgarder.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Nab girder, or nob girder. A bridle.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1785].

In phrases

nabs on (adj.)

(UK Und.) signifying the hallmark, i.e. proof of quality, on a silver or gold object.

[UK]Clarkson & Richardson Police! 321: A watch ... A tack, super, thimble, clocks, jerry. ‘Nabs on’ (hallmark).