Green’s Dictionary of Slang

stick-up n.

1. a hold-up, an armed robbery.

[Aus]E. Wardley Confessions of Wavering Worthy 167: We looked forward to the unpleasant possibility of a ‘stick-up.’ We therefore separated thirty or forty yards, keeping the horse in the middle [...] by which means we made it impossible for equal numbers to take us by surprise, and cover us with revolver or carbine by one simultaneous movement.
[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 55: It’s a stickup!
[UK]D. Lowrie My Life in Prison 54: Here I am a five-time loser, doin’ twenty f’r a stick-up.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Gutting of Couffignal’ Story Omnibus (1966) 19: I had helped send him to San Quentin [...] for his part in a payroll stick-up.
[US](con. 1900) C.W. Willemse Behind The Green Lights 39: Most of them had criminal records and had been guilty of stick-ups, burglaries and other serious crimes.
[Ire]‘Myles na gCopaleen’ Best of Myles (1968) 32: This is a stick-up. Slip off that ring and drop it in the fold of my trousers.
[Aus]North. Standard (Darwin, NT) 8 Aug. 9/1: [headline] Juvenile Stick=Up.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 15: The hard confident voice [...] that would make a stickup sound easy and sure of success.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 16: The glory of having known someone killed by the police during a stickup was the greatest event of his life.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Whoreson 237: I’m still on parole so I can’t stand no stick-ups.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) H. Huncke ‘Russian Blackie’ in Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 101: Hardcore Forty-second Street hustlers [...] reputed to go out occasionally on jobs — maybe a stickup or burglary.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 165: The poor bastard probably thinks it’s just a stickup.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 6 Aug. 5: Robbery victims can demonstrate their knowledge of the code. ‘The stickup can resemble a ballet, in which each side smoothly performs a choreographed part.’.
[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 50: The stickups we could never nail him for go from bold to ridiculous.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]W.P. McGivern ‘Manchu Terror’ in Goodstone Pulps (1970) 24/2: He’s been using that stick-up gag [...] for years.
[US]R. Price Clockers 21: A stickup crew from Newark [...] was hitting on Dempsy dealers.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 4: Stickup kids who had done it the same way.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘The Pager’ Wire ser. 1 ep. 5 [TV script] The stick-up crews that’s giving us the trouble.
[US]R. Price Lush Life 270: How did you know the stickup team was two black kids?
[US]P. Beatty Sellout (2016) 115: Maybe once in a while a curious stick-up kid might [...] look me up and down.

3. an armed robber.

[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 24: ‘[I]f I met him meself in a dark street I’d t’ink I was agin a stick-up. He cert’nly was a tough-lookin’ bloke’.
[US]N.Y. Times 2 Jan. (Cent. Supplement) n.p.: The man [...] is declared to be a typical ‘yeggman of the stick-up’ class [...] The ‘stick-up’ is always a powerful man, whose duties are to intimidate intruders and kill them, if necessary, while the others are at work on a safe [DA].
[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 34: Do you recall the turn which the ‘stickups’ today handed to the poor bum?
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 234: Mostly we has ter cop off the strong-armers an’ stick-ups an’ grifters an’ dips an’ other ringtails wot pester a circus.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 150: All he has left is his reputation, and he would die rather than lose it to a couple of ‘stick-ups’.
[US]J. Spenser Limey 256: The other men were bank robbers, pay-roll robbers, stick-ups, ‘box’ (safe) blowers and nondescripts.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]I. Wolfert Tucker’s People (1944) 254: He thinks maybe I’m a stickup.
[US]‘Blackie’ Audett Rap Sheet 239: He was a con-man, much as he was a stick-up.
[US]D. Hammett ‘A Man Named Thin’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 338: Just as she put a foot inside the door, this stick-up backed into her, both of them taking a tumble.

In compounds

stick-up man (n.) (also stick-up artist, …boy, ...guy, ...kid, …nut, stick-em-up kid) [stick up v.1 (1) + artist n. (1)/guy n.2 (1)/kid n.1 (4)/nut n.1 (3a)]

an armed robber.

[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 83: ‘[T]hey was told he was a desperate stick-up guy’.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 78: He was standing on the corner — He looked like a stickup guy so I hauled him in.
[US]W. Scott Seventeen Years in the Und. 60: The stick-up man with his stealthy tread and ever-ready ‘rod’.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Carmen’ in Gullible’s Travels 19: The dips or stick-up guys, or whatever they are, tries to get Genevieve to go along with them in the car.
Jackson Dly News (MS) 1 Apr. 7/3: Crook Chatter [...] ‘A stickup artist always assumes that the “tailer” carries a rod’.
[US]Eve. Star (Wshington, DC) 3 Dec. 4/6: Before the stick-up guy got fingerin’ his trigger [...] Cocky was in on him with a smash of his head.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 95: The ‘stick-up’ artists have not vanished entirely.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win 117: That would be just the place, kid, if you were going to shoot a burglar or stick-up man.
[US]C. Himes ‘Prison Mass’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 164: Then she had turned on the ‘leaks’ — just a pitiful victim of a big, bad, stick-up man.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Red Wind’ in Red Wind (1946) 25: I’m a stick-up artist now, am I?
[US]H. Asbury Gangs of Chicago (2002) 128: Flossie Moore and Emma Ford, both of whom were [...] gifted stick-up artists and panel-workers.
[US]J. Evans Halo in Blood (1988) 235: The supposed stick-up man had a mile-long record.
[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 180: Dix is [...] a small-time stick-up guy.
[US]Archives Neurology and Psych. July 86: I’m no stick-up man or nothing like that [DA].
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 34: The bank burglar, not to be confused with the bank stickup man.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 23: Others bought guns and became stick-up men.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 55: I looked through the paper to see if they’d caught Mr. Mudd, the amateur stick-up artist.
[US]B. Hecht Gaily, Gaily 93: Identified as a heretofore small-time stick-up man.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 283: The people who dealt the guns, the stick-up artists, the people who sold reefers.
[US] ‘Sporting Life’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 162: There’s the neighborhood cop at the numbers drop, / Shaking down the run, / But he may lose his grand to a stickup man / At the point of a blue steel gun.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 100: You a stick up man?
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 79: The stick-up nut can get riddled or wind up bumping some Dick.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 183: They were seasoned stick-up men.
[US]J.G. Dunne True Confessions (1979) 9: A few stickup men, an occasional shooter.
[US]Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five ‘The Message’ [lyrics] Turned stick-up kid, look what you done did.
[US]N. George ‘Rappin’ with Russell’ in Buppies, B-Boys, Baps and Bohos (1994) 52: A room full of coked-up stickup kids.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 90: You always been a stickup guy?
[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 110: They protecting themselves from the stick-up kids.
[US]Pileggi & Scorsese Goodfellas [film script] 48: You know who goes to jail? Nigger stickup men.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 75: Hoods, dopers, scammers, bikers and stick-up artists.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 98: Crapshooters, shoplifters, stickup men [...] everybody stopped off at the store.
[UK]‘Q’ Deadmeat 438: I started off as a stick em up kid . . . an look at me now.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 11: Shoot a corner dealer in the knee and take his stahs, you’re a stick-up boy and fair game for either the slingers or police. [Ibid.] 65: Fairly begging for the attentions of a knocker or stickup artist.
[UK]Guardian Guide 12–18 June 89: Stick-up guy Harrison Ford.
[US]Source Aug. 47: Shielding celebrities from aggressive fans, stickup kids and even potential assassins is incredibly dangerous work.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘One Arrest’ Wire ser. 1 ep. 7 [TV script] Wallace been all fucked up, since they got that stick-up boy, you know.
[US]A.N. LeBlanc Random Family 83: Cesar had gone from acting like a hoodlum to being one [...] He called himself a stickup kid.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 65: Ronnie mostly worked alone as a stick-up artist.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 275: He’s a stickup guy. He’s got a dope habit from here to Japan.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] I ain’t no stick-up kid! [...] I ain’t never stuck up no crack spot!
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] ‘[T]his black kid [...] walks through the door with a gun, yells it’s a holdup. World’s dumbest stickup guy, right?’.