Green’s Dictionary of Slang

make n.2

[make v.]

1. a successful robbery or swindle.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Binstead & Wells A Pink ’Un and a Pelican 161: Good Gordon’s beer! [...] Ernest Wells! An’ both of us at the same good old game — the ‘make’!
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 133/1: Make, n. 1. Professional thievery in general. [...] 2. A specific robbery, especially by the craftier methods, as in confidence games, picking pockets, etc.

2. (US Und.) the proceeds of a theft or robbery.

[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 331: If we’re going to ‘slough’ our ‘make,’ we’ve gotta keep our eyes open for them guys.

3. a seduction.

[US]R. Chandler ‘Red Wind’ in Red Wind (1946) 20: ‘It’s not a make,’ I said. ‘You’re in trouble.’.

4. (US) a description or an identification of a suspect, esp. through fingerprinting, photofit or other forms of police records.

in Gangbusters [radio script] We got a make on his prints [W&F].
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 74: All Lawrence remembers is dimly seeing a guy that looked like Dick Tracy and [...] I think that Dick Tracy stuff is a good make.
[US]H. Ellison ‘Have Coolth’ Gentleman Junkie 128: Derry Maylor was about medium height ... this is the make on him, so dig.
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 36: Captain, first let me give you a short make on our witness here.
[US]J. Ellroy Blood on the Moon 200: ‘We've run a make on him. All we got was unpaid traffic warrants’.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 141: No way police agencies could subpoena records, no make on incoming calls.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 61: That put enough numbers on the slate for me to get a make on the fake Samaritan [...] The guy was a wolf.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Jungletown Jihad’ Destination: Morgue! (2004) 334: I called the DMV [...] A clerk caught the ‘DeFrzz’ stats and coughed up a make.
[US]F. Bill ‘Amphetamine Twitch’ in Crimes in Southern Indiana [ebook] Mitchell wanted a make on the Mexican.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 231: It’s a make. The Nick Adams swag matches the manifests for six 459’s.

5. (US) kissing, necking.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 155: Make, Have a To neck.

6. see easy make under easy adj.

In phrases

lay the make on (v.)

(US) to become sexually aggressive.

[US]Current Sl. IV:1 10: Lay the make, v. To become sexually aggressive.
on the make (orig. US)

1. seeking sexual activity.

[US]N.E. Police Gaz. (Boston, MA) 18 Aug, n.p.: Fatty Twitchell has got disgusted with Lize King, and left her. He says she was too much ‘on the make’.
[US]Bismarck (ND) Trib. 3 Nov. 4/4: A New York correspondent [...] had a dream of going down to the bay [...] to interview the Jersey Lily, who used lots of slang, and told him she was ‘on the make.’ But this was only a dream.
[US]J. Lait Broadway Melody 73: Francis Warriner, the best known ‘on-the-make’ party aroun’ Broadway.
[US]J.P. McEvoy Hollywood Girl 42: Of course he’s on the make and what of it, all men are.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 23: A kid who was definitely [...] on the make.
[US]W. Brown Run, Chico, Run (1959) 27: Other cats, they’re on the make – that’s plain enough.
[Aus]‘Geoffrey Tolhurst’ Flat 4 King’s Cross (1966) 18: Anybody who tipped me at the Green Cat was usually drunk or on the make.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 112: [She] was talking with a guy who I knew was always on the make.
[US]B. Moyers Listening to America 97: She was clearly on the make.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 390: tomcat. A male who is on the make or, as a verb, to chase women, from the name of the hero of a bestseller of 1760.
[Aus](con. 1964-65) B. Thorpe Sex and Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll 30: A couple of shirtlifters on the make.
[US]T. Dorsey Florida Roadkill 108: Two men on the make walked up to the secretaries.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 25: Whoa now, Beth on the make, a good sign.

2. looking to benefit oneself, ambitious, keen to do whatever will be most useful for one’s own advancement or profit; also attrib.

[UK]M. MacFie Vancouver Island and British Columbia 416: The slang in vogue in the mining regions is imported mainly from California, and is often as expressive as it is original. [...] A mean and greedy man is ‘on the make’.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 54: They had a soft thing of it [...] They were on the make, continually.
Talford. An Affair at the — Club 29: What would the Bowery boy call right? His mottto in life is, ‘I’m on the make’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 17 Mar. 1/6: Everyone appears to be ‘on the make’ in this sordid age, when all are for [...] themselves.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Aug. 24/2: ’Ome doggy journal, Our Dogs, struck trouble by offering a reward, and ‘no questions asked,’ for a lost hound, whereat some caitiff ‘on the make’ set the 40-year-old Larceny Act in motion and got £50. Leave was, however, given to appeal.
[Scot]‘Ian Hay’ Lighter Side of School Life 224: A newly elected Member of Parliament [...] rarely if ever addresses the House during his first session. He leaves that to Radical thrusters and Scotsmen on the make.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Janeites’ Debits and Credits (1926) 159: One of ’em was a curate—the Reverend Collins—always on the make an’ lookin’ to marry money.
[UK]M. Allingham Mystery Mile (1982) 308: Since we’re all on the make [...] I’ll give you a piece of information for your first fifty.
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 298: I told you I was on the make.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 11: She worked in the chorus line [...] and she looked strictly on the make.
[UK]G. Melly Owning Up (1974) 224: The producers [were] fed up with bandleaders on the make who were willing if necessary to kiss their rings.
[US]B. Moyers Listening to America 11: Past boarded-up stores and pushers on the make.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 18: The yob on the make.
[US]G. Plimpton Truman Capote 444: He thought everyone was just like him: made up, on the make, malicious.
[UK]Guardian G2 28 July 13: He is just another on-the-make hillbilly.
[UK]J. Cameron Brown Bread in Wengen [ebook] ‘Chingford is full of little men on the make and their ghastly blonde wives’.
[UK]Observer Rev. 30 Jan. 2: In N.Y., where almost everyone is on the make, you’re judged solely according to your value as a contact.

3. engaged in theft or swindling.

[US]Hostetter & Beesley It’s a Racket! 226: go on the make—Begin a career of crime.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 133/1: Make, n. [...] 3. ‘On the make.’ Actively pursuing a criminal career; ready to participate in any lucrative criminal venture.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 5: Farmers are on the make like everyone else, to rob the railroads, beat banks and gyp consumers.
[UK]B. Hare Urban Grimshaw 54: Everyone was on the make, out to stitch her up.

4. (US Und.) of a police officer, willing to be bribed.

[US]‘Old Sleuth’ Dock Rats of N.Y. (2006) 104: ‘Are you on the make?’ ‘What have you to offer?’ ‘You can drop to a big sum.’.
run a make (on) (v.)

(US police) to identify a suspect.

[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972) 163: run a make [...] Conduct a police check on a person [...] done by radio.
[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 95: Pulling the hand mike outside to run a make.
[US]J. Wambaugh Secrets of Harry Bright (1986) 17: I couldn’t afford to pay them and one day one of your motor cops ran a make on me and put me in jail.
put the make on (v.)

1. (US) to make sexual advances.

‘Andrew Shaw’ Adulterers 109: ‘Then one day this guy put the make on me and I got all hot and I let him’.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 14 4: That was the first guy ever put the make on me.
[US]D. Goines Inner City Hoodlum 37: He wondered how many dudes were trying to put the make on her.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 47: Secure enough to tell Reynaldo Flemm to go pound salt every time he put the make on her.
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 315: Has he ever put the make on you?
[UK]K. Richards Life 181: With English chicks it was you’re putting the make on her or she’s putting the make on you, yea or nay.

2. (US) to assess.

[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 144: You always say, when you meet somebody new, the first thing you do is put the make on them, and if the figures are okay, level with them.