1. a confidence trickster.
|Notable Discovery of Coosnage in Grosart (1881–3) X 9: The foist, the nip, the stale, the snap, I mean the pick-pockets and cut purses are nothing so dangerous to meet with all, as these cosening Cunny-catchers.|
|Blacke Bookes Messenger 1: I had thought to haue joyned with this Treatise, a pithy discourse of the Repentance of a Conny-catcher lately executed out of Newgate.|
|Miseries of an Enforced Marriage Act V: I am gulled, by this hand. An old coney-catcher, and beguiled!|
|Martin Mark-all 30: This Lawrence had beene [...] cast out of seruice, and so was faine to liue among the wicked, sometimes a stander for the padder, sometimes a verser for the cony-catcher, sometimes a stale for a foyst, but most commonly an Apple-squire for a trudging house. [Ibid.] 31: Your idle vagabonds [...] bee robbers by the high waies, cousoners and cony-catchers, that liue by their wits.|
|Epigrams III No. 36: Thus her good wit, their cunning ouer-matcht, / Were not these conycatchers conycatcht?|
|City-Night-Cap (1661) II 11: Ha, ha, ha, now do I see, cuckold-making is as ticklish a profession as Cunny-catching.|
|Works (1869) II 155: Gentlemen, I pray you take me not for a common Ferriman to Conicatchers.‘A Cast over the Water’ in|
|Fine Companion V i: How, I your brother? No, I scorne to have affiance with such a conny-catcher: you sir Nessus, deliver up your theft, or I will play Hercules with you.|
|Black Dog of Newgate in (1884) 78: He was content to leave his cloak [...] in pawn for the xx shillings, which the coney-catchers took.|
|Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) I Bk II 333: He was a notable cheater and cony-catcher.(trans.)|
|(con. early 17C) Fortunes of Nigel II 282: Marry, thou hast me on the hip there, thou old miserly cony-catcher!|
|(con. 1905–25) Professional Thief (1956) 224: The ‘conny-catchers’ or ‘card sharps’ were the nucleus of the entire profession of thieves and swindlers.|
|Observer 6 Jan. [Internet] [Bitcoin’s] retinue has accommodated an incredible rogues’ gallery. There have been old-fashioned cony-catchers, saltimbancos and bubblers who did a runner with other people’s money in the time-honoured manner.|
2. ext. in non-criminal context, a plausible, smooth-tongued speaker.
|Burlesque Homer (4th edn) I 33: With honey words your ears he’d sooth [...] the old coney-catcher spoke.|