Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hustle n.

[hustle v.]

1. [early 19C] (Uk Und.) a street robbery.

2. [1940s+] (orig. US Und.) a swindle, a hoax, a get-rich-quick scheme.

3. [late 19C+] (US) any means of survival, often providing little more than subsistence.

4. [1940s+] (US black) a job, a means of earning a living.

5. [1940s+] (US black) working as a pimp, prostitute or tramp.

6. [1970s+] (US) flattery, deception.

7. [1970s+] (US) a means of seduction, a pass.

8. [1970s+] (US) a criminal scheme or activity.

9. [2000s] toughness, aggression.

In phrases

get a hustle on (v.)

1. [late 19C–1930s] (US) to get moving, to get going, to get on with the job etc.

2. to sustain one’s existence by whatever means available.

hard hustle (n.)

[1950s+] (US) any form of complex and thus potentially highly lucrative confidence trick.

on the hustle [1940s+] (US)

1. living as a confidence trickster, a swindler.

2. working as a prostitute.

3. working hard.