Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fakir n.

[vars. on faker n.; note the additional exotic tinge of SE fakir, a Muslim or Hindu holy mendicant]

1. a street salesman of cheap goods, an itinerant repairman etc.

[US]Cincinnati Enquirer 21 June 1/4: Our Street Fakirs.* The fakirs here meant are neither Persian dervishes nor Hindoo ascetics. Fakir is the technical term for a street-peddler—the men who, behind their stands at the street-corners, solicit by voice and gesture the patronage of the public. [Note] *Mayhew, the only writer on this subject, uses the term Fakement to designate a statement drawn up for the purposes of deception; hence the word Fake—goods made for the street sale, so the vender is called Fakir.
[US]H. Frederic Seth’s Brother’s Wife 107: You just everlastingly gave it to that snide show to-night [...] The sooner those fakirs understand that they can’t play Tecumseh people for chumps, the better.
[US]J. London ‘The Road’ in Hendricks & Shepherd Jack London Reports (1970) 311–21: Another division [...] is that of the ‘Fakirs’. There are tinkers, umbrella menders, locksmiths, tattooers, tooth-pullers, quack doctors, corn doctors, horse doctors — in short , a lengthy list. Some sell trinkets and gew gaws and others, ‘fakes’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 9 Nov. 4/8: Illicit fusel fakirs / And the shypoo shark he’ll pop.
[US]I.L. Nascher Wretches of Povertyville 220: A fakir has a satchel containing a number of small boxes, each holding a cake of soap.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 16 Aug. [synd. col.] Seen around town: Raymond Hitchcock, the actor, listening to a street corner fakir and taking notes.
[US]E. Dahlberg Bottom Dogs 131: The fakir closed his bag hurriedly and beat it; as somebody in the crowd said a cop was coming.
[UK]X. Petulengro Romany Life 240: The taso-fakir, the china-mender [...] the cane-fakir, the old man or sometimes woman who mends you cane-seated chairs.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 27: You are on the bum and happen to hit up some nice, kind holy fakir who is bursting over with sentiment and sob-stuff and advice and you hit him up for the price of a meal.
[US]A.S. Fleischman Venetian Blonde (2006) 232: When the garbage workers – the fakirs pitching vegetable cutters – got hungry they could feed on the display.

2. (also fly fakir) a confidence trickster, a fraudster.

[US]St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) 3 Dec. 17/7: ‘A fly fakir,’ a gypsy term, meaning simply a shrewd, plausible, and inventive man. In other words, an ingenious liar.
[US]S. Crane in N.Y. Press Nov. in Stallman (1966) 104: Say, that magic lantern man is a big fakir. Lookatim pushin’ ads in on us.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 6 Mar. 4/1: The pitiable crowd of boxers [...] are almost without exception ‘schlenterers’ [...] these fakirs enter the ring either to fiddle out a given number of rounds or waiting a chance to ‘kid’ a knock-out from a blow, possibly received on the point of the shoulder.
[US]M. Bodenheim Georgie May 236: She could spot the fakirs in a minnit.

3. (US) an actor.

[US]Daily L.A. Herald 13 Aug. 2/3: All actors, escept circus performers, are called fakirs and a costume is a ‘fakement’.
[US]Daily Trib. (Bismarck, ND) 23 Oct. 4/1: The actor seldom refers to himself as such; he is a ‘professional’ or a ‘fakir.’.

4. a street cardsharp.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Dec. 20/4: The card-fakir was struggling to frame a suitable reply when Solly whispered something in his ear which surprised him.

5. (US) a person feigning illness or injury.

[US]A. Berkman Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1926) 457: ‘You fakir, we’re next to you, all right.’ [...] He murmurs plaintively, ‘Yis, sir, me seek, very seek.’.