Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shark n.

1. in Und. uses.

(a) (also sharker) a confidence trickster, a crooked gambler.

[UK]Jonson Every Man Out of his Humour characters: Shift, a thread-bare shark [...] His profession is skeldering.
[UK]Dekker Wonderfull Yeare 48: Iehochanan, Symeon, and Eleazar, neuer kept such a plaguy coyle in Iersualem among the hunger-starued Iewes, as these three Sharkers did in their Parishes.
[UK]Jonson Silent Woman IV iv: A very Sharke, hee set me i’the nicke t’other night at Primero.
[UK]Chapman May-Day II i: Though y’are sure of this money again at my hands, yet take heed how this same Lodovico get it from you, he’s a great sharker.
[UK]Jonson Gypsies Metamorphosed 40: Come in my longe sharke with thy face browne and darke with thy tricks and thy toyes.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Travels of Twelve-pence’ in Works (1869) I 71: To Sharkes, Stales, Nims, Lifts, Foysts, Cheats, Stands, Decoyes / T’a Cut-purse, and a pocket picking Hound.
[UK]Tinker of Turvey 8: The Pedlar was no sooner come into the Market, but the three Sharkes [...] came to him.
[UK]Horn & Robotham (trans.) Gate of Languages Unlocked Ch. 83 817: A sharker (shifter) or make-shift sharks for money.
[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 1 7 June 2: Oh what a World of Sharks there lies, / on purpose to undo men.
[UK]T. Randolph Hey for Honesty Introduction: Here’s sequestrators and a rabble crew From Goldsmiths’ Hall [...] peepers, and informing sharks.
[UK]Witts Recreations Epigram No. 12: Of Shift the Sharker [...] Worse than himself he’s sure they cannot be.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Shark c. a Sharper.
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 58: A parcel of sharks meet, to bite one another’s heads off.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]‘Earl of Funsborough’ Covent Garden Jester 10: He could not stir out of his lodging till he had compounded with one of his creditors, who had some sharks on the look-out for him.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Sporting Mag. May II 103/1: The accumulation of Sporting Depredators, pick-pockets, and well-known sharks.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: Shark a sharper, cheat, imposing mean fellow.
[UK] ‘Ben Backstay’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 176: Sharks don’t for manners stand, / But grapple all they come near, / just like sharks on land.
[UK](con. early 17C) W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 245: I must needs risk the last five pieces with that shark among the minnows!
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 233: The Royal Saloon, in Piccadilly, a place of fashionable resort (said Bob) for shell-fish and sharks, Greeks and pigeons, Cyprians and citizens, noble and ignoble.
[Aus]Sydney Gaz. 11 Apr. 3/3: I have been preyed upon by sharks, sharpers, flash-men, fencers, rum coves, squatters, nippers, lifters, and all the tag-rag-and-bobtail denoted by the worst words in the Slang Dictionary.
[UK] ‘Life of a Vagabond’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 63: On flatfish I contrive to live though some call me a shark.
[UK] ‘Catalogue of Odd Fish’ Fleet-Street Collection 8: Some say that your lawyer’s a shark.
[UK]Dickens Old Curiosity Shop (1999) 271: ‘Sharks, I suppose?’ said the lodger.
[UK]J.E. Ritchie Night Side of London 108: He is a billiard-room shark.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 154: With two old sharks, and a deck of marked cards, there is no man that can win much money.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Man Higher Up’ Gentle Grafter (1915) 145: A full gathering of the National Synod of Sharks — housebreaking, swindling, and financiering all represented.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 15 June 9/4: Deep-laid plans of sharks and spielers / Are concocted round that way.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Three Without, Doubled’ Gullible’s Travels 235: ‘They tell me you’re the shark amongst the womenfolks,’ says I.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 33: I soon came to know the poker players, crap shooters and dice sharks who brought their victims into the back room to ‘clean’.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Cancer (1963) 34: She plays bridge like a shark.
[UK]J. Symons Man Called Jones (1949) 14: It’s owners are sharks and its personnel are rats.
[US]S. Bellow Augie March (1996) 25: Her father was a grafter, her brothers bums and cardsharks.
[UK]P. Theroux Picture Palace 88: Sly, fast-talking sharks.
[UK](con. 1960) P. Theroux My Secret Hist. (1990) 126: He had a card-shark’s way of snapping them on the table.
[UK]J. Healy Streets Above Us (1991) 4: Buskers and charity collectors act unwitting pilot fish for the dipper sharks.
[UK]J. King White Trash 54: Training for this new life as an international card shark.

(b) a pickpocket.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Sharks, the first order of pickpockets. Bow- street term, A.D. 1785.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 56/1: About this hour all the ‘sharks’ whose beat lay between the Quadrant, Regent street, and New street, Covent Garden [...] were likely to have got through with their ‘graft’ and to have gone there.
[UK]Lancs. Eve. Post 7 Jan. 5/7: He ran after the shark and snaffled him.

2. a parasite, a hanger-on.

[UK]J. Taylor ‘Farewell to the Tower-bottles’ in Works (1869) III 128: I was displaced, yet spite the bribed shark / The man that gave the bribe did miss the mark.
[UK] in Ebsworth Choyce Drollery (1876) 87: The Shark I do scorn, that’s only well born / [...] / But feeds on his friends like a Louse.
[UK]N. Ward London Spy XIII 322: We happily cleared our selves of these Fresh-Water Sharks.

3. in senses of legalized extortion.

(a) (also sharkie) a sharp operator, a crooked businessman; thus sharky adj.

[UK]J. Earle Micro-Cosmographie No. 15: A Sharke is one whome all other meanes haue fayl’d, and hee now liues of himselfe.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘A Bawd’ in Works (1869) II 97: Shee is a cunning Angler and gets her liuing by hooke or by crooke [...] A great Lord is her Groneland Whale, a Country Gentleman is her Cods-head [...] whilst the Puncke is her salt Eele and the Pander her Sharke and Swordfish.
[UK]Smollett Roderick Random (1979) 11: Thus ended our visit, and we returned to the village, my uncle muttering curses all the way against the old shark and the young fry that surrounded him.
[UK](con. 18C) W. Scott Guy Mannering (1999) 164: We want our goods, which we have been robbed of by these sharks.
[US]Commercial Advertiser (N.Y.) 13 Dec. 2/2: Although this man’s name was not known, he was recognized by several as a person who had been what is commonly called a Fly Market Shark for several years.
[UK]D. Jerrold Men of Character III 318: There are sharks, Mr. Trumps, believe me, sir, there are sharks.
[US]Cultivator VIII 53: When you arrive in a new settlement, beware of sharks [DA].
[UK]Trollope Three Clerks (1869) 31: He expected to pay £200 a-year for his board and lodging, which he thought might as well go to his niece as to some shark, who would probably starve him.
[US]Night Side of N.Y. 29: The crimps have their strong-hold here, and Jack’s hard-earned wages [...] is the in-flowing capital upon which these sharks carry on their infamous calling.
[US]E. Eggleston Mystery of Metropolisville 52: He knows how to deal with these sharks.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Mar. 6/1: For his outspokenness in the public good he was burnt in effigy at Hill End, and the mail coach by which he was believed to be a passenger was thrice stopped by a band of enraged mining sharks who feared exposure.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 26 July 6/3: The Yankee managers [...] wre a lot of sharks who lived upon the fighters.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 187: Another shark, the family solicitor, chipped in and took a hand.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 25 Feb. 1/1: The registry sharks are doing a power of fleecing just now.
[UK]W. Boyle Eloquent Dempsy (1911) Act I: I could not allow my countrymen and countrywomen to fall into the hands of heartless shipping agents, maybe to be robbed and starved and shipwrecked by the miserable sharks.
[US]H.L. Wilson Somewhere in Red Gap 137: If the shark offers that it’ll be worth more.
[US]Indianapolis Star 28 Sept. 8/4: Pudgy bailiffs. Ambulance chasers and bail sharks.
[UK](con. WWI) F. Richards Old Soldiers Never Die (1964) 100: The majority [...] were very honest, but we had one [officer] in the Company who was a proper shark.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 241: ‘Me, a shark?’ [...] ‘Private enterprise, that’s all it is—buying cheap and sellin’ dear.’.
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 113: The beaches were being prepared for the boomer and the shark.
[UK]J. Mandelkau Buttons 147: One sharkie put up a huge canvas tent and had some little dolly singing inside.
[WI]S. Baku ‘One Bad Casa’ in Three Plays I iii: What’s a nice guy like me doin among these sharks.
[UK]Guardian G2 5 Oct. 16: Playing cheesy strip joints, negotiating sharky record deals.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 9 Sept. 1: Alan Clark hated the Fourth Estate [...] Newspapers were ‘sharks’ and ‘shits’.
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] His [i.e. an artist] gallery shark allowed him a small portion of the proceeds.

(b) a custom house officer.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) I 84: At the words ‘Beware of the sharks’ (custom-house officers), I was received in a most amicable manner.
[UK]F.E. Smedley Frank Fairlegh (1878) 114: Those custom-house sharks [...] look so close after one, that one can’t do a stroke of work that will pay a fellow now-a-days.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor (1968) I 384: They [...] look mysteriously around to see if there be any of ‘them ere Custom-house sharks afloat’.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 251: The Señor’s got to sell it to those that’ve got the nerve to dodge the United States Custom sharks.

(c) as the sharks, the press gang.

[UK]D. Jerrold Ambrose Gwinett I iii: gil: A word with you, the sharks are out to-night. label: The sharks? gil: Aye, the blue-jackets, the press-gang.
‘Mark Twain’ Letter from Hawaii (1967) 81: The professional ‘sharks’ in New Bedford and New London who furnish crews to ships.
[US]G. Davis Recoll. Sea-Wanderer 62: It is to be hoped that the customs of the shippers and the greed of the 'sharks' have improved and moderated since then.

(d) a lawyer; also attrib.

[UK]Paul Pry 30 Sept. 182/2: [T]hat extensive practitioner and sea solicitor, yclept the shark.
[UK]‘F.L.G.’ Swell’s Night Guide K4: Shark A Lawyer.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Wash. Standard (Olympia, WA) 5 July 1/3: It will give me influence enough with that old shark Fenton.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 19 May 1/8: Before noon no less than six ‘sharks’ had waited on to him to inquire if he had seen that atrocious, that villainous libel published on his fair name and character.
[US]F. Dumont Dumont’s Joke Book 42: Lawyers are called ‘sharks’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Sept. 31/2: Hochblatter appealed to the lawyer to flatten out this presumptuous Irishman, but the shark said he was afraid Michael Mulligan was right, and counselled retirement.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 1 Jan. 1/1: A shark solicitor caught a bounteous Christmas box from his latest bill of costs.
[UK]D. Stewart Dead Man’s Gold in Illus. Police News 6 Mar. 12/3: ‘[I] suprised him with that old shark of a lawyer Cutts’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Aug. 38/2: As a consequence, the average individual seems to regard the six-an’-eight profession [sc. lawyers] and every body and thing connected with it as in the nature of a bad smell to be carefully avoided and harshly spoken of. / In the first place, Gent. One is abused as a successful licensed plunderer[...] For this reason he is called ‘hog,’ ‘shark’ and other predatory animals as hard and as often as possible.
[US]S. Ford Torchy, Private Sec. 26: Trying out my processes, and fighting the Patent Office sharks between times.
[Aus](con. 1936–46) K.S. Prichard Winged Seeds (1984) 176: Here’s a letter from some shark of a lawyer.
[UK]C. MacInnes Mr Love and Justice 29: Here comes the shark from the solicitor’s.
[US]P. Cornwell Point of Origin (1999) 162: ‘It’s called a shark attack.’ ‘Uh oh. Damn fucking lawyers. Who was it this time?’.

(e) a supplier of private loans at maximum interest; a loan shark n.

[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 35: He called on the License Clerk, a Presbyterian Minister and the Weekly Payment Shark.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Nov. 36/2: The other day a Brisbane time-payment shark, hearing that the husband of one of his victims – I mean customers – a naval reserve man, was obtaining the address of the shrapnel line, rushed round and demanded £4 outstanding on the sticks.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 46: shark. an expert; also a gouger, man-eater, as in loan-shark.
[US]J. Fishman Bullets for Two 14: The former loan shark himself had pulled the trigger which snuffed out the lives of the couple.
[US]Pileggi & Scorsese Goodfellas [film script] 124: I’d [...] go to the sharks to pay back the bookies.

(f) (US) a pawnbroker.

[US]D. Hammett ‘The Scorched Face’ Story Omnibus (1966) 73: ‘Myra Banbrock and another girl came to his joint last week and hocked a lot of stuff [...] Her companion wasn’t Ruth. It was a little blonde.’ ‘Mrs. Correll?’ ‘Uh-huh. The shark can’t swear to that.’.

(g) (US, also labor shark) an employment agent.

[US]N. Anderson Hobo 113: They take and give hard blows in their dealings with the ‘labor shark.’ Many men can get along much better with the blunt and unceremonious private agent.
[US]V.W. Saul ‘Vocab. of Bums’ in AS IV:5 344: Shark—An employment agent.
[US]A.W. Dragstedt ‘My Dream of Bughouse Square’ in ‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route (1930) 187: The O.B.U. would save us from / The awful labor sharks.
[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. (4th edn) 582: An employment-agent is a shark, and a farmer or other poor simpleton is a scissor-bill.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 76: Employment sharks who took a big bite from their pitiful wages.

(h) (US) a private detective.

[US]W.M. Raine Cool Customer 255: He has Sherlock Holmes and all these book sharks backed off the map.

4. in US campus uses.

(a) one who deliberately misses a lesson or similar compulsory attendance; the act of choosing to miss such an attendance.

[US]B.H. Hall College Words (rev. edn) 421: shark. [...] an absence from a recitation, a lecture, or from prayers, prompted by recklessness rather than by necessity [...] He who is absent under these circumstances.

(b) a very intelligent or hard-working student; thus shark on stilts n., a brilliant student.

[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 11: shark n. 1. A person who is very bright either in a general way, or (more often) in some particular line of work; a student who always has his lessons and usually knows more about the subject than his classmates do 2. One who is exceedingly quick to understand difficult points. shark on stilts An exceptionally brilliant student.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 59: shark, n. One who excels in anything.
[US]N.Y. Eve. Post 5 Jan. 6: [The] ‘shark’ known to the American college world [...] [is] primarily, the student who devours and digests learning with ease [DA].
[UK]P. Marks Plastic Age 203: I know perfectly well that some fellows can go out for a bunch of activities and make Phi Bete, too; but they’re sharks and I’m not.

5. (US) an amoral, hedonistic individual.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 25 Sept. 12/1: Her ruin was accomplished under the most deplorable circumstances by a young and dashing society shark.

6. in senses of expertise.

(a) (US) an expert, an authority.

[US]‘Lord Ballyrot in Slangland’ in Tacoma Times (WA) 5 Aug. 4/4: If Bill’s stuff ever gets lacked up in the Paris galleries, the art sharks will ooze in through the skylights.
[US]N.Y. Eve. Post 5 Jan. 6: [The] ‘shark’ known to the American college world [...] [is] primarily, the student who devours and digests learning with ease [...] and, secondarily, one who excels in any line of activity [DA].
[US](con. 1918) L. Nason Chevrons 36: I thought you were a shark at French.
[US](con. 1900s) S. Lewis Elmer Gantry 49: You’ll admit he looks like some football shark.
[US]J.L. Kuethe ‘Johns Hopkins Jargon’ in AS VII:5 336: shark—an expert.
[US]D. Runyon ‘A Very Honorable Guy’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 422: Doc Bodeeker [...] is a shark on heads.
[US]A. Kober Parm Me 72: Is ‘Kappie’ still the shark with his tennis playing?
[US]S. Lewis World So Wide 162: I’m certainly going to call you Livy, even if you are a top-flight history shark.

(b) a womanizer.

[US]Bessie Smith ‘I’ve Got What It Takes’ [lyrics] The sharks would have their hands around her / But none could get her dough.
[Aus]Central Qld Herald (Rockhampton, Qld) 26 July 12/3: This Cockies Daughter and I did not Carrie [sic] on with the one-sided run as an other human shark came on the scene.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 218: The sharks was droppin’ shucks like the Yellow Kid, tryin’ to tighten her.

(c) a pool shark

[US]Morn. Tulsa Daily World (OK) 17 Dec. 74/3: She saw [...] pool sharks from Newark stand up and weep and cheer.
[US]A. Lomax Mister Jelly Roll (1952) 136: I started playing pool and I beat a few of the supposed-to-be sharks around there, left-handed.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 206: You tangled with gangsters and racketeers and poolroom sharks.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 93: This punk thinks he’s a shark.
[US]Kerouac letter 10 Jan. in Charters II (1999) 391: As usual I made a mistake right off, getting drunk and shooting pool with ‘sharks’.

7. (US black) a sharkskin suit.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 110: Some terms that talk primarily about specific clothing items, such as vines (suits), sharks (sharkskin suits), silks (silk clothes), bennys (coats), brims (hats), kicks (shoes), lizards (lizard-skin shoes), leather pieces (leather jackets), and so on.

8. (US prison) a dangerous, violent person.

[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 108: He quickly gets a sense of the sharks, the kind you want to keep away from, especially the crazed one in the cell directly across from him.

9. a sardine.

[UK]Hull Dly Mail 3 Sept. 5/3: [He] will never ask a messmate to pass him the sardines. he substitutes the word ‘sharks’.
[UK]Hull Dly Mail 6 Sept. 3/5: Her ‘bloke,’ who playfully demands a ‘couple of sharks,’ is merely asking for two sardines.

In compounds

shark and taties (n.)

(N.Z.) fish and chips.

[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl.
G. Ell N.Z. Traditions 70: Fish and Chips ‘Shark and taties’ or ‘lemon-fish’ deepfried in batter accompanied by French fries. The basis of the fast food business before its Americanisation.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
(ref. to 1950s) Ronowicz & Yallop English: One Language, Different Cultures 199: Fish and chips, also known as 'greasies' or 'shark and taties', constituted the main takeaway meal [i.e. in New Zealand] prior to the 1960s.
V. Symon Bound [ebook] Not that this was your ordinary plateof shark and taties – it was my all-time favourite, blue cod.
shark-bait (n.) (also shark-baiter)

(Aus.) a solitary swimmer swimming too far out at sea; thus shark-baiting n.; also used fig. (see cit. 1995).

[UK]A. Wright Rung In (1931) 267: It might be only some foolhardy ‘shark baiter’ as he heard the more venturesome of the bathers termed.
[Aus]A.H. Adams Australs. 177: Farther out in the deep water swam the venturous line of experts, technically known as ‘shark-bait’ [AND].
[Aus]Bulletin 13 Aug. 45: By swimming past the first line of breakers Alma had declared herself to be that disquieting disturber of peace, a sharkbaiter.
[UK] in K.S. Prichard Intimate Stranger in DSUE (1984).
[US]W. Simmons Joe Foss Flying Marine 100: ‘Poor old Joe finally got it,’ I could imagine the boys saying. ‘He’s shark bait.’ Every time I put out my arm to swim, I expected to draw back a stub.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 221: I’ve given up shark-baiting. Mug’s game.
K.S. Prichard Subtle Flame 99: Heigh, Sharn, I’m no good at shark baiting!
[Aus]Bulletin 13 Jan. 30: Vic Marshall, known to everyone as Sharkey (short for Sharkbait, after his habit of swimming the half mile from Lorne beach to the pier).
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 45: Sharkbait: A stupid swimmer who body surfs or swims in dangerous areas encouraging attacks by sharks.
[Aus]Australian 29 Apr. 55: Shares are subject to brokerage, buying and selling, and most stocks appear just shark bait for small fry like me [GAW4].
shark biscuit (n.) [on model of SE dog biscuit] (Aus.)

1. a novice surfer.

[Aus] E.K. Rudolph [blog] Here are some typical Australian phrases that we hear over and over again. I think you will enjoy them: [...] A ‘shark biscuit’ is an inexperienced surfer.
blurb for M. Clark Board Shorts at www.penguin.com.au [Internet] But it’s just as well Pup takes his lucky board shorts for the ride. Life as a shark biscuit in the surf is only part of Pup’s problems...

2. the victim of a shark attack.

[Aus]Via mag. (Sydney) [Internet] Beaches are patrolled by life savers (don’t call them lifeguards) and are protected from sharks by nets. There is a greater chance of being struck by lightning than of becoming a ‘shark biscuit,’ to use the Aussie vernacular.

3. a bodyboard.

[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 7 May n.p.: Their derisive lingo for bodyboards — ‘Shark biscuits’ [...] and Esky lids’.
J. Raglus Big Funky Action 116: Q. What is a shark biscuit? And where can I buy some? [...] A. Shark biscuit be dem Boogie-Boogie-Boards.
at www.mullettv.com [caption] And here she is again taking my shark biscuit (erm body board) out for a surf.
Damit & Mike Mitton Caricatures [Internet] The Stinksons: The adventures of a foul mouthed, alcoholic, shark biscuit riding vicar and his double jointed, V8 arsed grommet son.
shark-shift (n.) [shifter n.1 (1)]

a confidence man.

[[UK]Jonson Every Man Out of his Humour characters: Shift, a thread-bare shark; [...] He lives upon lendings. His profession is skeldering and odling, his bank Paul’s].
[UK]Middleton Black Book in Works (1840) 541: Or if neither, you will find talk with some shark-shift by the way, and give him the marks of the party, who will presently start before you.
shark’s piss (n.)

weak beer or other alcohol.

[UK](con. 1900s) F. Richards Old Soldier Sahib (1965) 87: Soldiers of the old John Company drank rum and not shark’s p—s.

In phrases

land shark (n.)

1. a ruffian, a thug.

[UK]J. Taylor ‘A Bawd’ in Works (1869) II 99: The singular patience of the Bawd is worthy admiration; not giuing any of these land-sharkes an ill word [...] but intreating the most rough-hewed Rogues in the company, with the stiles of honest worthy Gentlemen.
Memoirs of the Late Capt. Hugh Crow 31: We took to the boats to avaoid those land-sharks, the press gang.
[UK]R. Nicholson Rogue’s Progress (1966) 10: The land-sharks were all of the same genus, differing only in their modus operandi.

2. a policeman.

[UK]Duncombe Dens of London 47: I had a brush to-day, myself, with one of those land sharks.
[UK]Sinks of London Laid Open 43: [as cit. 1835].
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 12 Apr. 3/1: When he came to look for his rigging and found lt was running gear [...] he was compelled to send under bare poles [...] to look for a land shark (not a lawyer, but a policeman).

3. a custom house officer.

[UK](con. 18C) W. Scott Guy Mannering (1999) 188: Lieutenant Brown [...] told him some goose’s gazette about his being taken in a skirmish with the land-sharks.
[UK]A. Morrison Hole in the Wall (1947) 203: Nobody knew better the common sailor-man’s horror of complications and ‘land-shark’ troubles ashore.

4. a lawyer.

[Ire]‘A Real Paddy’ Real Life in Ireland 18: There he was boarded by a land-shark, a sort of May-day lawyer.
[UK]E. Howard Jack Ashore II 125: ‘What a land-shark!’ said Horatio, in a most elegant stage whisper.
see sense 2.
[UK]Story of a Lancashire Thief 11: I saw a lawyer [...] but I should have called him, then, a land-shark or a long-tailed monkey.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

5. (US, also land-shark hog) a wild hog.

Cultivator VII. 81: That vile race of animals which infest the country, and which, before the discovery of the name of ‘land sharks,’ used to be known by the name of hogs [DAE].
Report Committee Patents 1849: Agriculture 107: In the county of Yates [...] there is [...] the full blood land-shark hog [DAE].
Indiana Board Agriculture Report 1858-9 303: Hogs.—All kinds of mixtures, consisting in part of Grazier, Berkshire, Russian and China, together with the original ‘elm pealers,’ or land sharks [DAE].

6. a money-lender, a usurer.

[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 10 Feb. 120: They are regular land-sharks! [...] I knew a little better vot vos o’clock than that ere; I vasn’t to be done.
[US]W.H. Thomes Slaver’s Adventures 58: He [...] is after us like a land shark trying to collect a bad debt.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Jan. 9/4: Shylock was a harmless, benevolent old gentleman compared to a financier down South […]. This is the actual form of promissory note which a hard-pushed selector on the Murray was persuaded by this murderous-minded land-shark to sign the other day.
[UK]W.H. Davies Beggars 67: He is quite as extravagant as the man of long voyages, and is quite as easily fleeced by land-sharks.
[UK]‘Bartimeus’ ‘The Seventh Day’ in Naval Occasions 162: Fair game for every crimp and land-shark.
[UK]‘Leslie Charteris’ Enter the Saint 40: A loose-living land-shark called Hayn, who was born in a barn in the rain.

7. a confidence trickster; a swindler.

[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 19 Apr. 1/3: They admitted they were ‘half-slewed’, and gave the money to the crimp, who said he wished to preserve their cash from the ‘land sharks!’.
Life Boat (US) Sept. 33/1: The Land Shark feeds on the sailor bold, / Ere his throbbing heart grows poor and old; / He swallows him down while he's tender and young, / And laps his blood with a greedy tongue.
Adelaide Obs. (SA) 26 Sept. 11/1: Those evils they described under the slang expression of ‘land-sharking’ [...] men who did not want [the land] but desired to make something out of the class that did, — either by way of black mail or robbery, or chicanery, or whatever else it might be called.
[UK]Manchester Courier 1 Jan. 15/3: [He] tried to impose upon him with a trashy brass scarf pin, representing it to be gold. [...] To induce the lad to purchase the pin the ‘land shark’ offered to part with it for 5s.
[US]H.E. Hamblen Yarn of Bucko Mate 112: ‘Here ’s at you, you infernal land-shark!’ I gave him a swinging upper cut with my right under the jaw.
[UK]Edinburgh Eve. News 4 Jan. 3/2: Walter Brown, described as a ‘land shark,’ [...] was sent to gaol for stealing clothing from a tailor,. whose acquaintance he made on the pretence that he was a detective.

8. in attrib. use of sense 7.

Eve. Teleg. (London) 16 Sept. 5/4: A pedlar [...] pleaded guilty [...] to a theft of the ‘land shark’ description [...] by pretending that he was a seaman who had certain artickles for sale such as tobacco.
go upon the shark (v.)

to practise confidence trickery, to practise stealing.

[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 65: I passed one Month in observing the many Ways of stealing practis’d by the Society, but never went out upon the Shark by myself, having always for my Companion the Person who first brought me acquainted with their Ways.
pool shark (n.)

(US) an expert pool player, esp. one who makes money by winning at pool.

R.A. Woods City Wilderness 131: In addition to his pugilistic reputation, he is known as a ‘pool shark.’ He plays very successfully a game known as ‘one ball,’ which is very popular in many billiard rooms on Saturday nights.
[US]Van Loan ‘On Account of a Lady’ in Taking the Count 124: Headquarters for fighters, pool sharks, [...] and pinfeather clerks with sporting tendencies.
[US]S.J. Perelman in Marschall That Old Gang o’ Mine (1984) 48: Another one of those pool-sharks?
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 286: He saw himself as a careless, chance-taking pool shark.
[US]C. Himes ‘Let Me at the Enemy’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 39: High C is a pool shark.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 76: Poor Boy was playing a slick, half-white pool shark straight pool, twenty no-count.
[US]J. Yount Trapper’s Last Shot (1974) 77: Ole buddy, I’m just not a pool shark.
[SA]Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg) 13 Apr. [Internet] The passing of the Pink Piano Lounge and its fab drag queens and failed pool sharks.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Grave Doubt’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 81: Ron was a gambler. Ron was a pool shark.
shark week (n.)

(US) the menstrual period.

Misadventures On Line 10 Nov. [Internet] Adventures in Medical School. [...] We’ve had [...] what felt like shark week.
[UK]Guardian G2 10 May 11/1: Maybe periods wouldn’t be so frightening if we didn’t refer to them as ‘red tide’ or ‘shark week’.