Green’s Dictionary of Slang

mark n.1

[SE mark, to note down, i.e. one who is noted down as a possible victim]

1. (orig. UK Und.) the potential and actual victim of a con-man, a gullible person; thus make a mark, to ensnare a victim.

[UK]Laugh and Be Fat 151: Whores painted, Marks tainted, / In Tally Man’s Furbelow Cloaths.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 136/2: It was determined to ‘fence the wedge’ and bullion in the shape it was then in to a ‘mark’ whom Tom would bring to the ‘crib’ in the morning.
[UK]W.H. Stead ‘Confessions of a Brothel-Keeper’ in Pall Mall Gazette in Metropolitan Poor III 11: The girl, a likely mark, was a simple country lass.
[UK]Birmingham Dly Post 31 Mar. 3/5: Many a poor tramp felt a pane' of regret when ‘Squire Lucas’ died a few years since, for he was a sure ‘mark’ in time of need. Any cadger could count on 2d. [...] and in certain cases the tip went as high as 4d.
[US]S.F. Chron. 6 June 11/5: De lampers stood ’round till dey got wise to de joint, an’ dey didn’t do a t’ing but queer me marks.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 159: They fort they’d been made a mark of.
[UK]Sporting Times 23 June 2/2: He’s a spoony, and a loony, and a proper bookies’ mark.
[US]‘Billy Burgundy’ Toothsome Tales Told in Sl. 43: MORAL: A Mark and His Mazuma Soon Seperateth.
[Aus]L. Stone Jonah 225: His watery blue eyes [...] told him in an instant whether the owner was a likely mark that he could touch for a drink.
[US]Van Loan ‘Sporting Doctor’ in Taking the Count 14: The stamina isnt there [...] He’s lost it, and now he’s a mark for a second-rater.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 253: They got you soused so’s you either can’t show up to fight Kid Christopher, or you’ll be a mark for him if you do.
[US]‘Goat’ Laven Rough Stuff 13: He goes up to a ‘mark,’ or likely looking guy, and through his line of talk, gets the mark to buy the ring.
[US] ‘I’ll Gyp You Every Time’ in C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 177: A ‘mark’ — a carnival term for anyone who plays the gambling games.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 48: Roy walked over to our mark and pulled a wallet out of his pocket.
[US] ‘The Fall’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 81: She played stuff like an ace, never lost a case, / And put many a mark in debt.
[Aus]J. Holledge Great Aust. Gamble 147: Slater - a bully and a notorious ‘stand-over man’ since youth - thought he was an easy mark.
[US]E. Tidyman Shaft 155: The freaks got out on the sidewalk, mingling with the marks.
[US]A.K. Shulman On the Stroll 3: Pimps call it [i.e. 42nd St, NYC] the fast track. Just down the street the Live Sex Acts are pulling in the marks.
[US]Dr Dre ‘Fuck Wit Dre Day’ 🎵 Musta thought I was sleazy or thought I was a mark cause I used to hang with Eazy.
[Aus]G. Disher Deathdeal [ebook] The typical mark [...] exaggerated his status in the world.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 3 July 10: The ‘mark’ is the victim, the target, the patsy, that poor trusting fool who is willing to hand over his life savings to someone he knows to be dishonest in the hope of making an easy buck.
[US]P. Beatty Tuff 156: Nadine was to play the ingenue. It would be her job to lure the marks to the game.
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 113/2: mark n. 1 (also easy mark) a person who is easily conned.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 48: Any of the woods out there takes one look at your bare, skinny-ass arms, he fuckin’ knows from jump street that you’re a fish, a fuckin’ mark, dawg.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] He let Shameeq think he was getting over. If the mark thinks he’s a con, then he ends up conning himself.
[US](con. 1962) J. Ellroy Enchanters 84: ‘Deedee Grenier’s working a mark inside [the club]’.
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 496: ‘I weren’t thieving. It’s tradition... the bilking of the mark’.

2. (UK Und.) an item to be stolen, a place to be robbed.

[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 7: He shewed us all one particular Pack, and said, that’s your Mark, and your best place is beyond the Village, to take him into one of the Fields.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 14/2: Thinking all must be quiet at the ‘drum,’ we moved towards there. We met none on the road [...] and we slid quietly to the ‘mark’.
[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 165: Jervise Willson [...] and his ‘mob’ had a ‘mark’—in their case, an easy bank to rob—in one of the Northern States.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 46: A mark [...] means a safe that can be knocked off pretty easy.
[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 334/1: mark, n. [...] 3. A safe which may be opened with an explosive.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 144: If the mark is a bank, it will be well cased before the robbery.
[US]H. Ellison ‘With a Knife in her Hand’ in Deadly Streets (1983) 122: He don’t feature us knockin’ over marks in his block.
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 6: This promised to be a healthy bundle, since this was no ordinary ice mark.

3. (UK Und.) a pickpocket’s target.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 68/2: I [...] followed my ‘mark’ in below the bell, and managed to get seated alongside of her.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden Explains 113: Dere dey stood wid dere mouts open, dere coats open, and dere jackets open; dead marks for crooks t’ touch.
[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 260: The tool picked his mark and the stalls crushed him against the tail of the rattler.
[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 334/1: mark, n. [...] 2. An intended victim.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 135/2: Mark, n. [...] 2. Anyone selected to be victimized by pickpockets or confidence men.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 808: mark – An easy mark; a pickpocket’s victim.
[US]D. Winslow Border [ebook] Nico might have been the best cell-phone booster Calle 18 ever had [...] The marks didn’t see him coming and they couldn’t catch him going.

4. (Aus./US) a person, usu. in the context of their financial probity, specified as a good mark or bad mark.

[Aus]R. Howitt Australian 233: I wondered often what was the meaning of [...] ‘Is the man a good mark?’ I heard it casually from the lips of apparently respectable settlers, as they rode on the highway, ‘Such and such a one is a good mark,’ – simply a person who pays his men their wages, without delays or drawbacks; a man to whom you may sell anything safely.
[US]A.H. Lewis ‘The Rat’ in Sandburrs 109: D’ Rat being well dressed [...] gives d’ impression he’s some rich old mark.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 46: Mark, good (or bad), a general term of approval (or disapproval) for a person.
[US]J. Blake letter 2 Aug. in Joint (1972) 213: The mark hears it and is also annoyed.
[US]J. Mills Panic in Needle Park (1971) 28: If this guy really wanted to hang around for a few weeks, Bobby was thinking, he could be a real good mark.

5. (UK tramp) a good place to beg.

[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 161: I asked one of the tramps at the camp whether he knew of any ‘mark’ (a house where something is always given to beggars) in the town.
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 303: Mark—a place ‘good’ for food or clothes or money.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 210: Mark – A mark is a person or place good for food, clothes or money.

6. (UK tramp) a generous giver.

[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 395: MARK: a person or house ‘good’ for food, clothes or money.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 210: Mark – A mark is a person or place good for food, clothes or money.

7. (US black) a victim, usu. the target of a gang assassination, mugging, robbery etc.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 1 Sept. 11/1: [used of a boxer] Being at a physical disadvantage [he] became a ‘mark’ for the latter at distance range fighting.
[US]‘John Eagle’ Hoodlums (2021) 26: Sooner or later he would be approached by one of the many marks that lingered at this particular spot in the park.
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 8: Whitey had said that tonight he’d find a mark, pull a heavy score.
P. Chevigny Police Power 92: [T]he arresting officer told him, ‘If I let you get away with it, other people might think I’m an easy mark and jump me’.
[US]D. Goines Daddy Cool (1997) 78: Daddy Cool made up his mind that today would be the day. He had his mark down pat.
[US]G. Sikes 8 Ball Chicks (1998) 202: The mark had to be someone naïve or too drunk or high to realize what was going on.
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 113/2: mark n. 2 a person targeted for a (contract) killing or assault.
[US]F.X. Toole Pound for Pound 12: Bigger and tougher boys knew a mark when they saw one.
[Scot]L. McIlvanney All the Colours 133: Hepburn shouted his name and the mark stopped [...] The first bullet caught the guy’s arm.

8. a newcomer to the world of prostitution.

[UK]J. Manchon Le Slang.

9. (drugs) in pl., the signs of narcotic injections.

[US]G. Milburn ‘The Tropics’ Curse’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 202: Those marks were left by fingers deft / Of my girl friend – Miss Morphine.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 23: Those needle scratches didn’t go. The heat busted you for marks.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 246: marks Needle marks left on the body from repeated use of a hypodermic syringe.
[US]E. Bunker Little Boy Blue (1995) 280: I got pinched last week for marks.

10. (US black/teen, also marko) as a term of address.

[US]N. Algren Little Lester’ in Entrapment (2009) 94: Look, you two marks — put down that Salvation Army deal ’n do like me — all I do is play solitaire ’n smoke sigerettes now — How’d you marks like a deal like that, marks?
[US]H. Gold Man Who Was Not With It (1965) 102: Don’t give me no lip, marko.
[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 298: Hey, you marks, pass me a bottle of that joy juice.

11. a drug dealer’s customer.

[US]H. Ellison ‘At the Mountain of Blindness’ in Gentleman Junkie 62: Porky was a pusher. He was waiting for his mark to come and make the connection.

12. (US Und.) a prostitute’s customer.

[US]‘Paul Merchant’ ‘Sex Gang’ in Pulling a Train’ (2012) [ebook] The marks started showing a little after seven-thirty. The first one [...] eyed the girls wetly and settled ona petite brunette.
M. Spillane Delta Factor 31: Cute little hooker [...] She never brought her marks here with her [HDAS].
[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 79: He lived for those moments when some hurrying mark left Blondie prepared to beg him for relief.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 282: ‘The girl says she’s afraid of the mark. He’s gone kinky on her’.

In phrases

easy mark (n.)

1. someone or something overcome, mastered or persuaded without difficulty, anything achieved with ease.

[[UK]Birmingham Dly Post 23 June 3/5: Thus readily singled out from his fellows he [a game bird] became an easy mark for the sportsman].
[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 19: easy mark An easy prey to a joke.
[Scot]Edinburgh Eve. News 29 Dec. 2/6: Mr M’Kinley [...] he being invulnerable, while the President offers an easy mark.
[UK]Derby Dly Teleg. 28 May 3/5: Why, the man’s enmity is so malignant that he gives every book agent [...] my address. and tells them I’m an easy mark!
[US]C.B. Chrysler White Slavery 51: Girls that say ‘Come on, you ain’t game,’ girls that make ‘cop outs’ or mashes, girls that are looking for an easy mark.
[US]Johnston McCulley ‘Thubway Tham’s Inthane Moment’ in Detective Story 19 Nov. 🌐 Were they playing him for an ‘easy mark’ [...], he wondered.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 113: We’re a couple of easy marks! Whee! Let me at it! I’m going to buy out the store!
[US]V.G. Burns Female Convict (1960) 35: She had several dollars in her hand. ‘Two easy marks,’ she said.
[Aus]L. Glassop Lucky Palmer 240: He picked an easy mark, ‘Lucky’, when he picked you.
[US]R. Prather Scrambled Yeggs 86: Word gets around I’m an easy mark and then where am I?
[US]J. Rechy Numbers (1968) 204: Hustling, Johnny would have spotted the man [...] as an easy mark.
[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 73: I was becoming known as an easy mark to the winos.
[US] ‘Frauds against the Elderly’ hearing US Congress Committee No. 96–254 30: An elderly person is an easy mark to them.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett You Wouldn’t Be Dead for Quids (1989) 32: Bikie Number One [...] thinking he’d found an easy mark, decided to poke shit at Norton’s tuxedo.
Dennis Jung Potions 9: He knew that anyone foolish enough to fall asleep here announced themselves as an easy mark for the thieves that preyed on the pilgrims and tourists.

2. an obvious suspect.

[US]D. Runyon ‘Neat Strip’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 614: We are the easiest marks around when the reformers start rousing the cops.
[Aus]L. Redhead Peepshow [ebook] We want you in the room with the mark because we need all the evidence we can get.
mark-ass (adj.)

(US campus/teen) weak, inferior; thus mark-ass trick, a weakling, a fool.

Urban Dict. 17 Feb. 🌐 mark-ass (adj) Very pathetic, characteristic of a "mark", or one who is easily owned or taken down.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2016 6: MARK-ASS TRICK/TRICK-ASS MARK — person who won’t stop intentionally acting stupid.
put the mark up (v.) [put up v.]

(US Und.) of a confidence man, to locate and investigate a well-to-do victim.

[US]D. Maurer Big Con 3: Locating and investigating a well-to-do victim. (Putting the mark up).
raise a mark (v.)

(US Und.) to use bluffing to extract more money from a victim.

[US]D. Maurer Big Con 305: To raise a mark. To force a mark in a confidence game to raise his price by bluffing as in poker.
soft mark (n.) [soft adj. (3) ]

a gullible victim.

[Scot]Dundee Courier 22 Apr. 4/2: The Rovers had a soft mark from Cowdenbeath last Saturday, and beat them soundly.
[US]J.P. Quinn Fools of Fortune 231: He then tells the selected victim that he has found a ‘soft mark,’ (which in the vernacular of the profession means a particularly gullible dupe), and offers to introduce him.
[US]Ade Artie (1963) 84: Down at the farm, he was the wise guy and I was the soft mark.
[Scot]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 30 Aug. 4/3: You may think me a soft mark [...] but I’ll show you that I’m not.
[US]Ade Girl Proposition 101: The latest variety of New Woman resents the Suggestion that she is a Soft Mark for the curbstone Masher who stands in front of Cigar Stores and Works the Banjo Eye.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Dec. 42/4: See that V and the mark against a chap’s nose – that means ‘very soft mark to bleed.’ S and a mark would be ‘soft mark.’.
[Scot]Dundee Courier 5 Dec. 7/5: Mason [...] was found to be a soft mark for some of these professional women.
[Scot]Dundee Courier 17 June 5/5: Witness denied that the defendant had been taken as ‘a pigeon or a soft mark’.
[Scot]Post (Lanarks) 6 Aug. 9/1: They put me down as [...] a ‘soft mark’.
[Scot]Dundee Courier 27 July 2/2: He might not find Yugoslavia such a ‘soft mark’ for Cominform propaganda.
string a mark (v.)

(US Und.) for a confidence trickster to entrap a victim. 🌐 You’d be amazed at how long a clever operator can string a mark along.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

come to the mark (v.) [thus SE come up to the mark]

(UK Und.) to fulfil a contract, to keep a promise.

[Aus]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 233: come to the mark: to abide strictly by any contract previously made; to perform your part manfully in any exploit or enterprise you engage in; or to offer what I consider a fair price for any article in question.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
no-mark (n.) [he/she makes no mark in life]

a nobody, a nonentity.

[[US](con. 1843) Melville White-Jacket (1990) 65: There were several of these steady-cooks on board; men of no mark or consideration whatever in the ship].
[UK]J. McClure Spike Island (1981) 121: I’m just a no-mark. Y’know, people all look at me and say, ‘Look at the poor old fella over there!’.
[UK]Stage (London) 13 Dec. 22/3: We are now steadily building up our own dictionary of Scouser colloquialisms. Professor Phil has decided that we [...] are all divvies and no-marks.
[UK]N. Griffiths Stump 52: Just look out for some mouthy fuckin no-mark shoutin the friggin odds an he’s ar man.
[UK]J. Fagan Panopticon (2013) 250: Imagine [...] you were special, not just a total fucking no-mark.
[UK]Guardian 21 Jan. 🌐 Some screwball no-mark in some pointless department.
Twitter 22 Mar. 🌐 We used to be better than this. Brexit changed everything. Now we're insular no-marks.
on the mark (adj.)

(N.Z. prison) trustworthy.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 113/2: mark n. on the mark reliable or faithful.
over the mark (adj.) [a notional ‘mark’ that denotes a limit to ‘safe’ drinking]

(Can.) tipsy.

[Ire]C. Brown Down All the Days 194: Just me Da. A few over the mark. I’m taking him home.