1. (UK Und.) a trickster, a confidence man.
|Fraternitye of Vacabondes in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 6: The company of Cousoners and Shifters.|
|Mirrour for Magestrates of Citties (2nd edn) H2: These expert Shifters, by falce Dice, slipperie castynge, or some other nice Sleight: [...] wyll make their Purses as emptie of Money, as the Catte the Mouses headde of Braynes.|
|Kind-Harts Dreame G2: This Shifter forsooth carried no lesse countenance than a Gentlemans abilitie, with his two men in bluecoates.|
|Vertues Common-wealth n.p.: The very scum, rascallitie, and baggage of the people, theeues, cut-purses, shifters, cousoners.|
|Ludus Literarius IV 40: The great abuse by som shifters, who go vnder the name of Scriueners .|
|Bloody Brother IV ii: They have so little As well may free them from the name of shifters.|
|Anatomy of Melancholy (1893) I 91: Shifters, cozeners, outlaws, profligatae famae ac vitae (*Men of bad reputation and life).‘Democritus to Reader’|
|Hist. of England 130: Bunglers at the Scripture [...] but in worldly matters, practis’d and cunning Shifters.|
|Edwardsville Intelligencer (IL)14 Sept. 4/4: The Flappers’ Dict. [...] Shifter: A Grafter.|
|Morn. Tulsa Dly World (OK) 7 May 29/6: The ‘shifter’ [...] flaunts as his banner ‘Something for nothing and then very little’.|
2. (UK Und.) a warning from one thief to another.
|Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 265: shifter an alarm, or intimation, given by a thief to his pall, signifying that there is a down, or that some one is approaching, and that he had, therefore, better desist from what he is about.|
3. (US Und.) a receiver of stolen goods.
|AS II:6 280: The two guys knows a ‘shifter’ (one that transfers stolen goods from the thief to the ‘fence,’ a place where stolen goods are sold).‘Prison Lingo’ in|
|DAUL 191/2: Shifter. (East and near South, except New York and New Jersey) A go-between from thief to buyer of stolen goods.et al.|