Green’s Dictionary of Slang

badger n.1

[SE badger, an animal which is nocturnal and carnivorous; the prostitute/thief also ‘devours’ their victims after dark; senses 9 to 12 are less ‘aggressive’ versions of sense 7]

1. (UK Und.) a pimp.

[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: Badgers [...] Also a Match-maker, or Cock-Bawd.

2. (UK Und.) a thief who specializes in robbery on the riverbank, after which he murders the victim and disposes of the corpse in the water.

[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: badgers a Crew of desperate Varlets, who rob and kill near any River, and then throw the dead Bodies therein. The Eighteenth Order of Villains.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[US]‘Jack Downing’ Andrew Jackson 92: [He] compelled every mountybank, and elbow-shaker, frezier, bully-trap, and janizary, lolly-poop, sea-crab, caper merchant. Badger, Dandy-pratt, and Fidlam-ben [...] tu muster in his army.
[UK](con. 1715) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 153: Mudlarks, badgers and rat-catchers.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 97: Badgers, forestallers and murderers.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 312/2: badger [...] voleurs qui opéraient le long de la Tamise et noyaient leurs victimes. Les progrès de la vapeur et de la civilisation ont heureusement détruit cette race homicide.

3. (US) an old man [? the ill-temper of the animal].

[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Farmer 51: This infernal old Badger to draw me into a Tavern Bill, and not a Guinea in my Pocket.
[Ire]D.O. Madden Revelations of Ireland 115: Come, cut your shtick, ye catankerous owld badger iv a jackanapes.
[US]R.G. Hampton Major in Wash. City 56: The cursed old badger is drawin’ a pension too.
[US]P.I. Wellman Bowl 267: Knew an old, tough, ornery cowman [...] without an iota of education, culture, or cleanness — just an old plains badger [DARE].
[US] in DARE.

4. (US) the nickname of the natives or inhabitants of Wisconsin, the Badger State [the early Wisconsin lead-miners (badgers) lived in subterranean diggings alongside the seams of lead they were mining; for detailed discussion see R.H. Thornton, An Amer. Glossary (1912) I pp.32–3].

[US]Amer. Qly Rev. Mar. 186: There was [...] a keen-eyed, leather-belted ‘badger’ from the mines of Ouisconsin .
[US]R.W. Emerson Eng. Traits 27: I found abundant points of resemblance between the Germans [...] and our ‘Hoosiers,’ ‘Suckers,’ and ‘Badgers,’ of the American woods.
[US]Keynotes of Amer. Liberty 166: Popular Names of States: Wisconsin The Badger State.
[US]Semi-Wkly Louisianan 31 Aug. 1/3: The Nicknames of the States [...] Rhode Island, gun flints; South Carolina, weasels; Tennessee, whelps; Texas, beefheads; Vermont, green mountain boys; Wisconsin, badgers.
[US]Daily Globe (St Paul, MN) 17 Jan. 1/7: Lively contest Among the Republicans of Badgerdom [...] The Nutmeggers in a similar Fix.
[US]North Amer. Rev. Nov. 433: Among the rank and file, both armies, it was very general to speak of the different States they came from by their slang names. Those from Maine were called Foxes; [...] Missouri, Pukes; Mississippi, Tad Poles; Florida, Fly up the Creeks; Wisconsin, Badgers; Iowa, Hawkeyes; Oregon, Hard Cases.
[US]W.S. Walsh Literary Curiosities 1039: Though Illinois does not specially abound in ‘suckers,’ and ‘badgers’ are rather scarce in Winconsin, the two commonwealths are still respectively known as ‘the Sucker State’ and ‘the Badger State’.
[UK]Guardian On Line 11 Oct. [Internet] The multitude of data in the Badger State gives Obama a 2- 3-point advantage.

5. a thief who rifles the pockets of a man who is currently engaged with his accomplice, a prostitute.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 9: Badger, A panel thief; a fellow who robs a man’s pocket after he has been enticed into bed with a woman. [Ibid.] 27: The badger got under the doss, and frisked the bloke’s pokes of two centuries and a half, and then bounced the flat till he mizzled.
[US]J.D. McCabe Secrets of the Great City 358: The Detectives’ Manual gives a glossary of this language, from which we take the following specimens [...] Badger. – A panel-thief.
[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 128: The ‘badgers’ deal only with those men who are susceptible to the wiles of pretty women.
[US](con. 1900s) C.W. Willemse Behind The Green Lights 76: I had no compunction against picking up ‘trimmers,’ ‘badgers,’ or ‘creepers’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 21/1: Badger. One who specializes in the badger.

6. (US, also badge) a prostitute, esp. one who participates in a scheme to rob her clients.

[US]N.Y. Times 4 June 8: Jane Smith, who has several aliases, and Elizabeth McCarty, both noted female ‘badgers,’ were arrested yesterday by the Detective Police.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 16: badger [...] Current amongst ‘hustlers’ and the demi-monde. A badger; a blackmailer, an extortioner. [Ibid.] 64: Amongst gamblers and badgers a ‘peter’ is a sleeping potion.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’ s Man 134: It might get us a piece of money for a sorta refined ‘badger’ – oh, nothing coarse, nothing rough, nothing not classy.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May: Her Story in Hamilton (1952) 129: Women, mostly with male assistants, are the badgers; and men are the victims. A man of money and social position is selected, or come upon accidentally, who cannot afford to call in the police. When he is in a compromising position, a witness appears; and nothing remains but to shake him down. Sometimes the man fights. He either takes his publicity-medicine or frightens the badger away. Both may happen.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 145: [It] houses more speakeasies, dope dens, toke joints, badger apartments.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 158: mr badger: The man who pretends to be the outraged husband in the badger game. mrs badger: A woman blackmailer who plays the badger game.

7. (US Und.) a man who dresses as a woman in order to exploit other men for money.

[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 330/1: badger, n. A man who dresses as a woman and exploits other men for money.

8. see badger game

In compounds

badger game (n.) (also badger lay) [SE game, scheme, intrigue; lay n.3 (1)] (orig. US)

1. (also badger) the ensnaring of a client by a woman, often a prostitute, and his subsequent robbery, either by the woman herself or more often by her pimp, posing as an ‘outraged boyfriend’; the man often emerged, while the pair were in flagrante, from a hidden door or panel in the bedroom wall.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 15 Nov. 100/1: Billy Cox, the panel thief, who escaped from this city [...] for a robbery which he committed on the badger lay at the den of Mary Hodges.
[US]N.Y. Times 4 June 8: Jane was wanted to answer a charge of having come the ‘badger’ game a few evenings since on a respectable elderly gentleman, whom she encountered in Houston-street.
[US]S. Crane in Phila. Press 20 Dec. in Stallman (1966) 184: If a man should insist on becoming a victim of the badger game, he could probably succeed [...] in Minetta Lane.
[US]Century Dict. (Supplement).
[US]Wichita Daily Times (Wichita Falls, TX) 14 Mar. 5/4: ‘The Deep Purple’ is built around the ‘badger’ game [...] a form of crookedness more or less rife in all large cities.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 79: This same lawyer put me on to the camera racket, in connection with the badger game.
[US](con. 1877) E. Cunningham Triggernometry (1957) 58: The gentleman friend of a Cyprian beauty of the town tried the ancient badger-game on Wes.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 81: The badger game, in which a man is compelled to make a payment to mollify an enraged ‘husband’ with whose wife he has been caught, is one of the oldest [confidence tricks].
[US]H. Asbury Gangs of Chicago (2002) 100: Mollie Holbrook [...] opened an assignation house, where she fleeced a rich Western cattle man out of $25,000 with the badger game.
[US]P. Whelton Angels are Painted Fair 217: The racket was launched about three years ago. Borleen [...] and Delamaine Lockley knocked it together – the Squeeze or the Scare, or the Badger Game. Whatever you want to call it.
[US]L. Block ‘Badger Game’ in One Night Stands (2008) 25: He made her grift at once — it had to be the badger game.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 25: ‘I was with the girl and the man came in an shook me down. Held a knife on me.’ ‘That’s badger [...] Any fool with a broad can work that.’.
[US]Winick & Kinsie Lively Commerce 27: Some prostitutes worked ‘the badger game’.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

2. in ext. use, a confidence trick based on exploiting the victim’s interest in a woman.

[US]Dly Eve. Bulletin (Maysville, KY) 25 Feb. 1/5: Mrs Ollie Ellis, better known as the ‘Chicago Daisy’ [...] has returned accompanied by a man [...] The scheme which the woman expected to work [...] is known as the ‘badger game’.
[US]Rock Is. Dly Argus 8 Nov. 1/4: The couple worked the badger game to perfection. Hern was accused of winning the affections of the man’s wife, and violence was threatened him unless $1000 was produced.
[US]Dly Capital Jrnl (Salem, OR) 2 Apr. 4/1: The ‘badger game’ is being overworked in this town [...] prominent and wealthy citizens have been forced to give up large sums of money.
[US]Tacoma Times (WA) 10 Aug. 3/1: The famous ‘badger game’ is one of the absorbing themes of the play. [...] There is ‘Frisco’ Kate, Leland, the badger man [etc.].
[US]Wash. Herald (DC) 15 June 2/2: Police charge the defendants in a ‘badger game’ extorted $2000 from George V. Whittle, an expert accountant who was stopping atr the Powhatan Hotel .
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Tenth Clew’ in Continental Op (1975) 36: We could get more money out of him by working a fancy sort of badger game on him. I was to lead the old man on until I had him wrapped around my finger [...] Then we were going to shake him down for plenty of money.
[UK]Bath Chron. 18 Dec. 24/3: Miss Newman had lured him to her apartment. It was the old badger game blackmail.
[US]A.S. Fleischman Venetian Blonde (2006) 179: Spare me your little badger game – whatever it is.
badger house (n.) [house n.1 (1)]

(US) an establishment, often a brothel, where the client is robbed.

[US]Snares of N.Y. 80: We have spoken specially of ‘panel’ and ‘badger houses.’.
[US]Trumble Man Traps of N.Y. 17: One or two cribs, as these places are called, though they also enjoy the euphonious appellation of ‘badger houses’ – are quite notorious.
[US]Seattle Star (WA) 23 Feb. 1/3: [picture caption] Corner in bedroom of the Belmont Ave. ‘badger house’ [...] where wealthy men were lured by unscrupulous ‘sirens’ and photographed for blackmailing purposes.
badger-man (n.) (also badger game man)

(Aus./US) the accomplice of a prostitute or female confidence trickster who tricks her clients.

[US]Eve. World (NY) 12 Jan. 5/2: The notorious Tip Little, the confidence and badger game man, the husband of Belle Litttle and companion of Molly Hask, the badger queen of the this city.
[US]Eve. Statesman (Walla Walla, WA) 4 Apr. 4/2: Pouring lighjt nothings into the not unwilling ear of the ‘badger man’s’ female confederate ever was a dangerous divertisement.
[US]Tacoma Times (WA) 10 Aug. 3/1: The famous ‘badger game’ is one of the absorbing themes of the play. [...] There is ‘Frisco’ Kate, Leland, the badger man [etc.].
[US]W. Scott Seventeen Years in the Und. 62: Another type of the gentleman crook is the badger man—a sort of blackmailer, whose work is helped to its consummation by a woman companion.
[US]J. Mills Panic in Needle Park (1971) 42: Mike found the Murphy game [...] considerably less harrowing than his old profession as a Badger Man. In that scheme he had worked with a prostitute, waiting for her to get a John into her room, then barging in and announcing angrily that he was the girl’s husband and was going to take the John apart limb by limb. Then he allowed his fury to be stilled by cash.
badger moll (n.) (also badger girl) [moll n. (1)]

(US) a woman, often a prostitute, who tricks her client.

[US]Omaha Dly Bee (NE) 15 Nov. 5/3: Who do you think was in the other day? Your old ‘badger Moll’ Florence.
[US]Eve. Statesman (Walla Walla, WA) 4 Apr. 4/2: To be lured [...] by a ‘badger’ girl is not alone criminal but...
[US]National Police Gazette 25 Nov. 3: To be a Badger Moll a woman had to have nerve, assurance, a fair amount of good looks [HDAS].
badger worker (n.) (also badger game worker) [SE worker/worker n.1 (1)]

(US) a prostitute who tricks her clients; and allows them to be robbed by a supposed ‘busband’ or ‘brother’ thus badger work.

[US]C.W. Gardner Doctor and the Devil 52: Few of the old time ‘panel games,’ ‘badger workers,’ ‘confidence games’ and pastimes of that ilk existed.
[US]J. Sullivan ‘Criminal Sl.’ in Amer. Law Rev. LII (1918) 890: A woman who decoys men and then her accomplice (alleged husband), blackmails them is called a ‘badger-worker.’.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day By Day 27 Apr. [synd. col.] Mag Conley was a badger worker.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 27: A ‘dip,’ a pimp, a hustler (street walker), a badger game worker, or a blackmailer, couldn’t get into the ‘pipe joint.’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 15: badger work Blackmailing of a man by a woman by placing him in a compromising position where a male confederate demands money, alleging himelf to be her husband.

In phrases

growl at the badger (v.)

to perform cunnilingus.

[US]D. Lypchuk ‘A dirty little story’ in eye mag. 8 July [Internet] On the jewelled terrace he growled at the badger, blew some tunes and went way down south in Dixie, where he found himself grinning in the canyon.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] growling at the badger adv. Performing oral sex on a girl.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

badger-box (n.)

(Aus.) ‘a roughly-constructed dwelling’ (Morris, Austral English, 1898).

[Aus] in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania Sept. 99: The dwellings occupied by the piners when up the river are of the style known as ‘Badger-boxes,’ in distinction from huts, which have perpendicular walls, while the Badger-box is like an inverted V in section [etc.].