Green’s Dictionary of Slang

moll n.

[dimin. of proper name Mary, reinforced by the early 17C criminal Moll Cut-purse, immortalized in Middleton & Dekker’s play The Roaring Girl (1611)]

1. a woman, usu. a promiscuous one.

[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle II ii: She is loose in nothing but in mirth; Would all Molls were no worse!
[UK]Middleton Chaste Maid in Cheapside II ii: This Lent will fat the whoresons up with sweetbreads / And lard their whores with lamb-stones; what their golls / Can clutch goes presently to their Molls and Dolls.
[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 24 8–15 Nov. 203: When Moll must kneel to her maid Jone.
[UK] ‘Lovers’ Session’ in Wilson Court Satires of the Restoration (1976) 177: Harry Wharton fresh reeking from Norfolk’s lewd Moll.
[UK]D’Urfey Comical Hist. of Don Quixote Pt 3 III i: Doll, Sue, Bess, and Moll, with Hodge.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 30 July 27: Love Moll, and let her not Controul: / What if she Whine, Shed Tears, and Frown / Laugh at her Folly.
[UK]J. Gay Beggar’s Opera I i: Black Moll hath sent word her Tryal comes on in the Afternoon.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 37: I stall at the Jegger to nap the Slangs from the Cull or Moll; that is take [...] I stop at the Door to take the Things from the Man or Woman.
[US]‘Andrew Barton’ Disappointment I iii: A Room in Moll Placket’s house.
[UK]Gentleman’s Bottle-Companion 55: Bet Wymes of Wedderby the pride, / By baliffs yet untam’d, / Bespoke Moll Fulgame by her side, / With lust and rage inflam’d.
[UK] ‘The Potato Man’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 54: A moll I keep that sells fine fruit / There’s no one brings more cly.
[UK]Whole Art of Thieving [as cit. 1753].
[UK] ‘Miscellaneous’ Fancy I IV 101: So down to Cateaton-street went she, accompanied by [...] as many Long-alley Lads of the Village and their Molls, as could turn out of their dabs at that early hour.
[UK]‘A Rum-Un to Look At’ in Libertine’s Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) I 135: Oh I have got a moll, / And I calls her leary Poll.
[UK]H. Brandon Dict. of the Flash or Cant Lang. 164/1: Moll – a girl.
[UK]Kendal Mercury 3 Apr. 6/1: There’s a tidy swarm of maunderers (beggars) and molls on the chanting lark (singing) [...] sharpers (razor-grinders), and crocusses (quack doctors).
Tasmanian Colonist 19 Sept. 2/4: O’Brien said he got the note from the ‘moll,’ meaning [Mary] Nugent.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[US]H.L. Williams Black-Eyed Beauty 30: How much will you put in my way to stop me going to tell your old man of your visits to such a veteran moll as Matty?
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Dundee Courier (Scot.) 6 May 7/3: The moll along of us tells fortunes.
[UK]W.E. Henley ‘Villon’s Good-Night’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 174: Likewise you molls that flash your bubs / For swells to spot and stand you sam.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 24: Giving them amusing accounts of how the ‘Molls dove out o’ the windows’ in their haste to give him room.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 10 July 1/6: I wouldn’t like my jockey to [...] give the money market away to a lot of molls.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 26 Jan. 6/3: The man Blue and the moll McEwan [...] were placed in the dock.
[US]H. Hapgood Types From City Streets 54: It was a moll, yer know. She was a swell-looking lass.
[SA]H. Russell diary 21 May [Internet] Went for a walk over to Estaires, struck a good joint plenty of molls but very hard to find.
[US]F. Packard White Moll 13: The vernacular of the underworld where men called their women by no more gracious names than ‘molls’ and ‘skirts’.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 48: He’s got this Schuyder moll — s’ciety, dough, class, fam’ly an’ woozy about him.
C.B. Yorke ‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.: Queen Sue was the toughest moll that ever pulled a gat this side of Hades.
[Aus] in A. Marshall These Are My People (1957) 73: Charles II gave that old moll, Sara Jennings, to the Duke of Marlborough and she became the Duchess of Marlborough.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 197: You’ll be on the hard road if the Bastard catches you doddering round the kitchen like a sick moll.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 100: I was a yegg and one of the toughest of yeggs / was ever poled in the latter soup / till I met a moll with the face of a doll / that put my head in a loop.
[Aus]B. Oakley Salute to the Great McCarthy 171: You and your Moll. She’ll be [...] writing notes. McCarthy’s Whore [...] Screwer of Loose Women.
[Aus]Lette & Carey Puberty Blues 78: A moll was just a lump of meat with a hole in it — and that’s how they were treated.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 69: There are molls for all men, and vice versa.
[Aus]T. Winton Lockie Leonard, Legend (1998) 179: I can’t believe her. What a moll.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 4 76: From what I’ve seen, half the toss up molls in Australia live in Tassie.

2. a prostitute [now survives only in Aus. use].

[UK]Middleton Father Hubburd’s Tales in Works VIII 78: They should be none of these common Molls neither, but discontented and unfortunate gentle-women [...] and they, poor squalls, with a little money, which cannot hold out long without some comings in.
[UK]T. Betterton Match in Newgate I ii: Moll, thou hast an honest Calling of Bawding.
[UK]‘Whipping-Tom’ Democritus III 18: In [...] came Mol Prate-apace, a common Harlot, for a Glass of Usquebaugh.
Swift ‘Strephon & Chloe’ Medley (1749) 110: Miss Moll the jade will burn it blue.
[UK]Life and Character of Moll King 18: Mother Haywood, well known in Covent Garden [...] used very often in the Night Time, to pay a Moll a Visit, but her chief Errant was to look after her Girls.
[UK]Nancy Dawson’s Jests 36: Ye brimstones of Drury and Exeter-street / Ye frows of the town, and ye molls of the Fleet.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. III 105/2: Full thirty years the nymph had been / A vot’ry of the Cyprian Queen [...] And Moll’s an honest woman!
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[US]Flash (N.Y.) 10 July 1/2: Moll Quiff — What do you mean by writing to me in that style, you India rubber harlot? What do I know about your George’s and your Jem’s, and your Dick’s, and your Harry’s. I believe you lay off with a thousand of ’em.
[Aus]Age (Melbourne) 4 July 5/3: [T]he female prisoner [...] told the detectives jauntily that she did not rob men herself, but received the spoil from her ‘molls’.
[US]H.L. Williams N.-Y. After Dark 32: I ’spose she’s had a break with the old moll, and is after a new house.
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 151: Little Dickey from the New Cut. 10 and a ticket. Put away by a moll (sold by an unfortunate).
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Captain of the Push’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 187: Would you have a ‘moll’ to keep yer — like to swear off work for good?
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 24 Oct. 1/5: We haven’t got a man on the staff who can tell [...] what moll is going to rob Robert Ellis.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘In Spadger’s Lane’ Moods of Ginger Mick 71: Frum shadder inter shadder, up the street, / A prowlin’ moll sneaks by, wiv eyes all ’ate.
[US]W. Edge Main Stem 194: Chi [...] It’s de hobo’s pararrdize. Free slum from de privates; de Molls is softer-hearter’n hell. I could find a dozen whores to keep me.
[UK]J. Devanny Paradise Flow 250: Every moll in the district knows Big Anton.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 152: You broken down old moll, you’d be no use to a dog, let alone a man!
[US] ‘The Fall’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 80: She was a brown-skin moll like a Chinese doll, / Walking up and down in sin.
[Aus]‘Charles Barrett’ Address: Kings Cross 122: ‘You trollop, you bitch, you rotten, empty-headed little moll’.
[UK](con. 1930s) I. Agnew Loner 45: ‘She a moll,’ Mario insisted [...] ‘She make wida quid.’.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Real Thing 167: You, you fuckin’ moll. Get up.
[NZ]A. Duff One Night Out Stealing 43: Not like a Tavi moll who’s all wrong timing and harsh kisses and untender touch.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Goodoo Goodoo 115: ‘Shit! You fuckin’ moll,’ he howled.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 45: A cab and drum were terms for a brothel – cab molls, or just molls were those who worked in them.

3. a girlfriend; esp. in gangster’s moll, a gangster’s female companion.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 120: Molls — are the female companions of low thieves, at bed, board, and business.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 246: Lots of the blades and their molls were locked up by the officers.
[Ire] ‘Ax My Eye’ Dublin Comic Songster 101: I keeps a rousling tousling / Moll, full fat and finely shaped.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 5/1: One of the ‘guns’ [...] had brought his ‘moll’ with him to show her off before the ‘meet’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 28 Sept. n.p.: Allan Taylor’s ‘moll’ and Tommy McIntyre [...] were ‘pinched’ for the ‘dip’ week before last.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 242: I never had nothin’ to do with any ‘moll’ who couldn’t cut her own grass.
[US]Colfax Chron. (Grant Parish, LA) 21 Aug. 2/3: He goes into a jewelry store with a confederate (usually his moll).
[UK]Dundee Courier 18 Aug. 7/4: A moll keeps a cove clean and decent.
[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 241: Each moocher had his Judy (wife), and each little kid had his Moll (sister).
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 16 Sept. 4/7: ‘Never be tempted ter fall like that pore creetchure Lady Isserbel,’ sez me old woman ter me moll.
[US]I.L. Nascher Wretches of Povertyville 191: Nearly every one of the professional criminals has his ‘Moll’ or female companion with whom he has a furnished room or flat.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Lily of St Leonards’ in Roderick (1972) 802: My ole moll’s good enough for me.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 12 Oct. [synd. col.] Each [gambler] has his Moll – or girl.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Big Knockover’ Story Omnibus (1966) 297: Whoever this gunman’s moll was, she [...] had learned her stuff well.
C.B. Yorke ‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.:
[UK]Nottingham Eve. Post 24 July 8/1: The girl in the red dress was a Dillinger moll who double-crossed him.
[UK]J. Worby Other Half 60: How am I to know you ain’t some guy’s Moll? I don’t want my block knocked off, get me?
[US]A. Hynd We Are the Public Enemies 9: His moll was part Indian and a professional blues singer.
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 45: Carl’s young girlfriend [...] was a far cry from the gunman’s moll type.
[UK]C. Rohan Down by the Dockside 189: I am now the complete gunman’s moll.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 98: It is easy enough to condemn some of these more authentic ‘Moll’ figures.
[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 41: To some Australians ‘moll’ has an affectionate connotation very puzzling to non-Australians [...] This usage is akin to the way Australian males intend words like ‘bastard’ or ‘bugger’ to be terms of friendship and acceptance.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett You Wouldn’t Be Dead for Quids (1989) 33: The bike’s moll had jumped up, and grabbing a Coke bottle, smashed it against the counter.
[UK] in D. Campbell That Was Business, This Is Personal 13: All the women, all the gangsters’ molls, they were all done up to the nines.
[UK]Guardian G2 23 Feb. 12: Terry, this wannabe jazzer’s moll, is a lovely paradox.
[Aus]L. Redhead Rubdown [ebook] Was this the ‘old moll’ Ling wanted Neville to leave?

4. (UK Und.) a landlady, a proprietress, the ‘lady of the house’; usu. ext. as moll of the crib, moll of the drum.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 35/2: As for the ‘moll’ of the ‘crib,’ I was all right with her, for I had used the house every time I had been in Dover. [Ibid.] 62/2: The trio was made up with the ‘moll of the drum,’ Maria (or as she called herself for shortness) ’Ria Hogg. [Ibid.] 132/1: The wine was brought, uncorked, and paid for, after which the ‘moll’ of the ‘drum’ disappeared.

5. (US) an effeminate male homosexual.

[N. Ward Auction 14: Heer’s Effeminate J—s [...] Pray take notice of his Allablaster Cheeks, for which the Vlugar [sic] have Nicknam’d him Washing Moll].
[US]M. West Drag (1997) Act II: Where are you molls calling from?
[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 147: Fairies with their sailors or marines or rough trade; tante’s (aunties) with their good looking clerks or chorus molls.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 137: moll 1. hard as nails queen.

6. (S.Afr.) a female Teddy Boy.

[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 74: The jobless ducktails and the high-kicking molls who foregather there. [Ibid.] 75: It was not uncommon to find the ducktails and their molls locked in passionate embraces.

7. (Aus.) an unpleasant woman.

[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] I didn’t say it [i.e. a sarcastic retort]; no need to be a moll. She was a nice lady.

8. see molly n.1 (1)

In derivatives

molled (up) (adj.)

1. followed or accompanied by a woman.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 38/2: Ere many minutes the two London ‘swell mobs’ [...] were promenading the streets of Dover ‘molled up’ to their hearts’ content.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 227: Molled followed, or accompanied by a woman. When a costermonger sees a friend walking with a woman he does not know, he says on the first opportunity afterwards, ‘I see yer the other night when yer was molled up and too proud to speak.’.

2. sleeping with a woman other than one’s wife; thus moll it up v.

[UK]R. Morley ‘Flashey Joe’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 97: You molled it up with Brick-dust Sall / And went to live with her in quod!
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 310/2: There is a great many furnished cribs, let to needys (nightly lodgers) that are ‘molled up,’ [that is to say, associated with women in the sleeping-rooms].

In compounds

moll buzzer (n.) [buzzer n.1 /worker n.1 ; note Goldin et al., Dict. of American Und. Lingo (1950): ‘The theft is accomplished in the following manner: An accomplice, known as the buzzer, accosts a victim and asks to be directed to a given place in the neighborhood. The destination is so chosen that the victim must turn her back to the carriage to point. The purse-snatcher now advances from the direction which the victim is facing and deftly seizes the purse. The victim seldom discovers her loss until the thieves have disappeared. Premature discovery requires the buzzer, feigning solicitude, to block pursuit and delay any outcry until the snatcher has escaped.’]

1. (UK/US Und./police, also dame buzzer, moll buzzard, moll worker) a pickpocket or a beggar who specializes in women as victims; thus moll-buzzing n. and adj., purse- or bag-snatching; by ext., any minor thief; buzz a moll v.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 55: moll buzzer A thief that devotes himself to picking the pockets of women.
[US]Brooklyn Eagle 9 Apr. 12: He was what is termed in police parlance a ‘moll buzzer,’ or in other words a thief to [sic] operate among females.
[US]A. Pinkerton Thirty Years a Detective 50: Pick-pockets who operate on ladies [...] are called ‘Moll-buzzers’.
[US]A.H. Lewis ‘Mulberry Mary’ Sandburrs 8: She hooks up wit’ Billy, d’ moll-buzzard.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 225: Her gift for mathematics made it clear that ‘Moll-buzzing’ was much more remunerative than sleeping in cellars.
[US]H. Green Mr. Jackson 181: He ain’t nawtin’ but a cheap panhandlin’ moll buzzer.
[US]H. Hapgood Types from City Streets 316: Moll-buzzers like me had a soft snap of it, for women kept their leathers in a big open pocket in the back of their dresses.
Buffalo Courier (NY) 8 Sept. 67/4: ‘Moll-buzzing’ in those days wa extremely easy because [...] women wore great hoop skirts.
[US]H. Simon ‘Prison Dict.’ in AS VIII:3 (1933) 29/2: MOLL-BUZZARD. Purse-snatcher or, by extension, other petty larcenist; usually opprobrious.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 48: Moll-buzzing is one of the easiest games for the dip.
[US]J. Tully Beggars of Life 198: A moll buzzer taught me in Boston. She worked wit’ a gang o’ dips.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 130: Moll Worker. – See ‘moll buzzer.’.
[US]M. Harris ‘Facing the Mob’ in Gangland Stories Feb. [Internet] Be careful of what you eat, you moll-buzzing, cheap grafter —.
[US]‘Goat’ Laven Rough Stuff 19: Working with the mob on what they call ‘moll-buzzing’ (picking women’s pockets, or bag snatching).
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Dame buzzer, a pickpocket who specializes in robbing women.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 149: The shopping districts are the spots where moll-buzzers do their best work.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 203: Wide boys looked out for a chance to nick a wallet or buzz a moll.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 74: ’R you one of them Chicago Av’noo moll-buzzers?
[US] ‘I Was a Pickpocket’ in C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 75: We operated [...] entirely upon women, and were consequently known technically as ‘moll-buzzers’ — or ‘flies’ that ‘buzz’ about women.
[US]Q. Reynolds Police Headquarters (1956) 235: The two moll buzzers will apologize profusely as they jostle the woman.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 227: The mimeographed lists of underworld slang [...] lexicons still defining such almost forgotten usages as ‘stool pigeon,’ ‘snowbird,’ ‘copacetic,’ and ‘moll buzzer’.
T. Calvano Crnal Close-Out n.p.: The ‘moll-buzzing’ went on also [...] Vesper and Marcy stuck to the rest room and lipstick-under-the-partition gimmick to lift purses, but now and then they merely walked off with them when a busy shopper put hers down in order to examine merchandise more closely.

2. (US Und.) a female thief, pickpocket or beggar.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 130: Moll Buzzer. – [...] a store thief.
moll hook (n.) [hook n.1 (2a)]

a female pickpocket.

[UK]Pall Mall Gaz. 13 Nov. 5/2: He urged his supposed daughter to become his accomplice in crime — to be a moll-hook.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Feb. 22/3: It can only be worked with the assistance of a first-class mollhook (female thief), such as may be enlisted off the Haymarket or Waterloo-place at midnight.
moll shop (n.) (also molly shop) [shop n.1 (3)]

a brothel.

[UK]J. Manchon Le Slang.
[UK] M. K. Joseph I’ll Soldier no More (1958) 181: Pretty faces [...] peered shyly into the street. ‘Looks like a moll-shop,’ said Connolly [OED].
[US]C. Howell Book of Naughty Nomenclature [Internet] Brothel Moll shop. Molly shop (male).
B.E. Sherman ‘Gold, Frankincense & A Funhouse Myrrh’ 25 Mar. Elwinshumor.com [Internet] How else could I come to terms with that time I picked up those genital warts in that Bangkok moll shop?
moll-tooler (n.) (also molley, moll-tool) [tooler n.1 ]

a pickpocket who specialises in female targets; usu. female.

[UK]Ragged School Mag. Dec. 294: [of a boy] Our profession was ‘moll tulers’ (or ladies’ pickpockets).
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 52/1: This was said by a lashy little piece, who had been about the first regular ‘moll-tool’ that had turned out from the Dials. [Ibid.] 70/2: We saw her go ashore and, in company with our ‘molley,’ who carried her seed bag, adle along the pier.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

In phrases

Moll’s three misfortunes (n.) [the phr., while appearing in manuscript in Grose’s own working copy of the 1785 edition (in the British Library), was not transferred into any of the published versions of the Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue; its first appearance in print is in Partridge DSUE (1937)]

a proverbial phr. defining the misfortunes as ‘broke the [chamber-] pot, bes[hi]t the bed and cut her a[r]se’ (Grose, 1785).

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Moll’s three Misfortunes: Broke the Pot, Beshit the bed & Cut her A[rs]e.
posture moll (n.)

a prostitute who specializes in stripping and adopting sexually arousing positions before her customer; cites at 1787 refer to a man and woman adept in different sexual positions.

[UK]London-Bawd (1705) 147: You shall see a Jolly Crew of Active Dames, which will perform such lecherous Agilities [...] by Madam Creswel, Posture Moll, the Countess of Alsatia, or any other German Rope-dancer whatever.
[[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 43: She is very fond of a cleaver young fellow, especially if he be an able posture-maker, for she is passionately fond of that same dish only dressed in a different manner].
[[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 85: She is an able pasture [sic] maker, is up to every movement in the art of giving pleasure.