1. (UK Und.) a gamble, a bet.
|Sporting Times 22 May 3/3: One of four extraordinarily greasy Jews remarking, ‘We’re off — naow fur a shpiel!’.|
|Boss of Britain’s Underworld 6: All they wanted was to buy a drink at club prices, or have a speil [sic] with an even break.|
2. (US) a drinking spree.
|Tales of the Ex-Tanks 19: I made a finish of a Chicago spiel no further away than in Dayton, O. I don’t remember getting to Dayton.|
3. (US tramp) the commodity that a pedlar is selling.
|Tramping with Tramps 397: SPIEL: something to peddle. Hoboes often carry needles, pins, court-plaster, and the like. On meeting one another, they ask: ‘What’s your spiel?’ (‘What are you hawking?’).|
|in ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V.|
4. (US) a dance, as found in New York dance-halls.
|Sandburrs 9: He gets his lamps on Mary at Connorses spiel.‘Mulberry Mary’ in|
|Social Evil in N.Y. City 54: One of the favorite dances in halls of this type is the spiel, which requires much twirling and twisting, and is an objectionable dance.|
|New York Day by Day 31 May [synd. col.] Chinatown’s annual ball reveals the gloss of the underworld [...] Every fellow must have his ‘podner’ for the ‘spiel.’.|
|Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 178: SPIEL.– [...] a fast, boisterous dance.|
|(con. c.1900) City in Sl. (1995) 67: The dance itself was called the spiel and to do the dance was to spiel, whence the gerund spieling and the agentive form spieler.|
5. patter, speech, esp. of a salesman or market stall-holder, fairground stall-holder or confidence trickster; cite 1905 refers to a printed text.
|Tales of the Ex-Tanks 119: The whole beauty of this spiel consisted in the fact that it was true.|
|Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 14: [R]ight there at the top o’ the page is a spiel, printed in letters that Blind Tom could read [etc].|
|Confessions of a Con Man 113: This is the strength of my spiel. I have begun as a doubter, and I have come to believe.|
|Potash and Perlmutter 246: Dat’s a pretty said spiel day guy is tearin’ off.|
|You Can’t Win (2000) 19: He [i.e. a beggar] rips off his spiel in such exact and precise language that he gets your dime.|
|(con. 1920s) Studs Lonigan (1936) 595: And, say, was I ready to stand up and give three cheers when that long-nose ended his spiel?Judgement Day in|
|Dead Ringer 31: When I got to the freak show, Harry Stultz, the talker, was starting a spiel.|
|On The Road (1972) 166: He had the whole cookpot spiel worked out.|
|Proud Highway (1997) 483: Her eyes light up, and she rambles into the spiel; her job is saved, she can sell.letter 29 Jan. in|
|Carlito’s Way 108: I got noble, and didn’t put down no spiel.|
|Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 111: I lowered my voice and went into a style of sales shpiel favoured by used-car dealers.|
|Brown’s Requiem 17: Rather than stand around watching dreary retakes of Cal’s spiel.|
|Homeboy 17: Joe sliced off his spiel in midbreath.|
|White Boy Shuffle 89: The salesman, smelling commission, closed the deal with a spiel about French cowhide hand-sewn [...] by French seamsters.|
|Filth 252: I’m regretting [...] my stupid spiel even before I’ve blown my muck inside her.|
|Vatican Bloodbath 45: HRH gave them the usual spiel...blah blah blah...working together as equals (hah!)...fraternity of nations...all democratic now...Christ alone knew why they kept up this charade!|
|Running the Books 302: She’d worked out an entire spiel for politely saying hello to an ex-con and moving on.|
|More You Bet 32: A typical bookmaker’s [...] spiel might have gone something like the following [...] ‘Come on punters, who knows ’em? Come on punters, push in!’.|
|OG Dad 156: By the time the pediatrician finished her spiel [...] I feel like I may be raising a tree stump.|
6. a verbose, ‘wordy’ explanation.
|High School Aegis X (4 Nov.) 2–4: W’y didn’t I hol’ it down? Wor are you givin’ us? Wait till I give yer me spiel.‘And ’Frisco Kid Came Back’ in|
|Artie 100: There was a long spiel by the high guy in the pulpit.|
|Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 30 July 11/1: I am really brought to my deuce of benders that so many brights have cut [illeg.] since I laste mitted you a scribe, but i am hep that you will kick me a pardon when you dig this spiel.|
|Hollywood Detective Aug. [Internet] ‘Do something—get me to the hospital for a transfusion!’ ‘Not until I finish my spiel, bub’.‘Murder’s Mouthpiece’|
|Long Wait (1954) 43: The doctors went into a big speil about it.|
|Buttons 45: They really laid it on thick with spiels about me fighting them before stopping me.|
|Blow Your House Down 74: She’d just go on, doing her spiel.|
|Crack War (1991) 98: Then he went into a long-winded spiel about the responsibility of the Federal government.|
|Thrill City [ebook] I did my spiel: the grovelling apology followed by approximately five minutes of half truths.|
7. a conversation, a chat.
|Artie (1963) 13: Then him and Kennedy had a long spiel to themselves.|
|Tales of the Ex-Tanks 79: This fellow’s spiel got the horse bug to buzzing beneath the hat again.|
|Pat Hobby Stories (1967) 163: What I thought was maybe I could have a spiel with you.‘Pat Hobby’s College Days’ in|
|Breaking of Bumbo (1961) 72: Jock’s spiel babbled on to Babylon, a house near The Vale.|
|Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 188: Was I givin’ you two a lot of fantasy spiel by any chance?|
8. an idea, a plan.
|You Should Worry cap. 1: ‘We’ll take about two lessons from a good instructor [and] make the hit of our lives teaching them all to Tango.’ [...] ‘It sounds like a good spiel’.|
9. a situation.
|World of Graft 169: I’ve been shut up a number of years, it’s true, but I didn’t mind them as much as you would; I took them as part of the spiel.|
|Absolute Beginners 111: ‘Weird spiel, isn’t it?’ ‘Weird! Child, I’m telling you — it’s eerie!’.|
|Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 105: So here’s the spiel.West in|
10. (US campus) an eloquent passage in an essay or oration.
|DN II:i 62: spiel, n. An eloquent speech or passage in an oration or essay.‘College Words and Phrases’ in|
11. (US campus) a failure at recitation.
|Boston Globe Sun. Mag. 21 Dec. 7–8: A ‘spiel’ or a ‘drule’ is a flat failure in this line [i.e. recitation], and a fellow who has not been successful is a ‘cheese.’.|
12. lies, deceit.
|Gun Molls Oct. [Internet] ‘The sap fell for your spiel, Skeeters.’ [...] ‘Like they always do.’.‘Gorilla Girl’ in|
13. (orig. Aus.) formal advice, a set of instructions.
|Prison Days and Nights 21: [The judge] gives this farmhand a spiel about how this kind of stuff has got to be stopped.|
|Harder They Fall (1971) 277: Toro fixed his eyes on his opponent’s feet, nodding sullenly as the referee went through his spiel.|
|Frying-Pan 46: They give you all the spiel about ‘You can say what you like on a meeting’.|
|Grand Central Winter (1999) 74: Like every new arrival, I got the standard orientation spiel.|
14. a letter.
|letter 12 Jan. in Leader (2000) 156: Sling me a spiel when you can get around to it – I’m in the same stable (55) until I get hitched.|
15. a drinking club.
|Powder 459: We should go to the spiel, down Lisle Street.|
1. black slang, jive talk.
|in ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.|
2. interesting, persuasive patter.
|New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 256: hard spiel (n.): interesting line of talk.|