1. a police officer; thus the nabs, the police.
|Spirit of Public Jrnls 17 178: [from British Press29 July 1813] A nab stepp’d in and show’d his writ— / The Poet ’gan to curse a bit.|
|‘Nocturnal Sports’ in Universal Songster II 179/2: Give the nabs the double though [...] and generally cut out escape.|
|‘The Blowing In Quod’ in Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 40: When Nab, he was down upon me, / But not to have a to do.|
|Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 41: I don’t know nothin’ about no persuits, ’cept the nab’s persuits.|
|Western Mail 16 Oct. 3/7: The ‘ossifer’ fails to find his whereabouts for a while, thus he mitches, and in his own phrase ‘has high jinks along with the “nabs” making the dock’.|
|Duke 54: He don’t look like a nab.|
|Tomboy (1952) 142: Chickie, the nabs!|
|Walk on the Wild Side 244: Another walked past a nabber with a bill in his hand, and the same nab [...] let him pass.|
|Teen-Age Mafia 20: You’d think the nabs would keep an eye on the place.|
|(con. 1953–7) Violent Gang (1967) 12: Even those who wanted to throw me in the Hudson River [...] for being a ‘stoolie’ to the ‘nabs’.|
|Drugs from A to Z (1970) 188: nab An arresting officer, policeman.|
|Underground Dict. (1972).|
2. (US) an arrest, a police raid.
|Truth (Sydney) 11 Mar. 4/5: At his eleventh hour he suffered nab, / A beastly curious and persistent copman / Would not believe he was a languid shopman.|
|Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 107: They [...] ducked all nabs.|
|Walk on the Wild Side 75: When I put on the steam [i.e. whistle] [...] it means drop everything, it’s the nab.|
3. (US) a railroad security man.
|Walk on the Wild Side 78: One noon an armed nab stuck his nose in a box-car door — ‘Come on out of there one by one!’.|