Green’s Dictionary of Slang

nick v.1

[Rom., thus note Caló nicabar, to steal; ? underpinned by SE nick, to catch, to seize, to take advantage of an opportunity; ult. ety. fig. use of SE nick, to mark, i.e. to mark for oneself]

1. to win at gambling, orig. dice or cards (esp. by cheating).

[UK]Nice Wanton B1: Do ye nycke us be knaue your noly, [...] Take the dice Dalila, cast on.
[UK]C. Cotton Compleat Gamester 8: If they nick you, ’tis theirs; if they lose they owe you so much.
[UK]Cibber Woman’s Wit I i: I very fairly nick’d him of Five Hundred upon the Square.
[UK]N. Ward London Spy XV 356: Sent up to Town, as thousands were before, / To Nick and Froth, and learn the Double Score.
[UK]Fielding Lottery 7: If I can but nick this time, Ame’s-Ace, I defy thee.
[UK]Foote The Minor 53: Slam me, but he has nick’d the chance.
[UK]O. Goldsmith She Stoops to Conquer Act III: My old luck: I never nicked seven that I did not throw ames ace three times following.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Nick, to nick, to win at dice.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. XVII 41/2: Cry, ‘Seven’s the main! What odds that I don’t nick?’.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]E.J. Milliken ‘Cad’s Calendar’ Punch Almanack n.p.: At july just nicked a handy fiver, / (Twenty-five to one on old ‘Screwdriver’!) [F&H].
[WI]F. Collymore Notes for Gloss. of Barbadian Dial. 79: Nick. To throw dice.

2. to catch, take unawares.

[UK]J. Taylor ‘Great Eater of Kent’ in Hindley Works (1872) 8: Tapsters cannot nick this Nick with froth, curtal cans [...] and double-dealing bumbasted jugs.
[UK]Jackson’s Recantation in C. Hindley Old Bk Collector’s Misc. 14: He [...] made me so proficient at it [i.e. cheating], that I could nick the nicker sometimes.
[UK]Behn Lucky Chance I iii: Wise old men must nick their inclinations, for it is not as ’twas wont to be.
[UK]Congreve Old Bachelor I i: Ay, there you’ve nicked it.
[UK]Fielding Tom Jones (1959) 223: Thinks I to myself. I’ll nick you there, old cull; the devil a smack of your nonsense shall you ever get into me.
[UK]Foote Nabob in Works (1799) II 298: He nick’d me be desiring only just leave to scratch the poll of the parrot.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Fontainebleau in Dramatic Works (1798) II 276: [He] has nick’d me, that have nicked thousands.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 213: If Nestor can’t the Trojans nick / By some old square-toe’d slipp’ry trick.
[UK] ‘The Exciseman Outwitted’ in Holloway & Black (1979) II 98: Damme, I’ve nicked you, ’tis useless to curse.
[UK](con. early 17C) W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 306: If honest Jack Hildebrod puts you not in the way of nicking them all, may he never cast doublets, or dull a greenhorn again!
[UK]Lytton Night and Morning II 298: I must be off – tempus fugit, and I must arrive just in time to nick the vessels.
[UK] ‘’Arry on His Critics’ Punch 17 Dec. 280/2: ’Owsomever in one thing you’ve nicked me. No marriage for ’Arry, sez you. / O, right you are, chummie.
[UK]E.J. Milliken ’Arry Ballads 23: That nicked ’er, my nibs.
[US]S.E. White Blazed Trail 44: He would have made a good boss [...] He’s a hard man to nick.
[US]B. Appel Brain Guy (1937) 86: I’m paying for this. Last night nicked you for plenty.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 115: By Gad I’m nicked.
[UK]N. Dunn Poor Cow 101: I might come up on the offchance then I might nick you cheating ha ha.

3. (UK Und., also do a nick) to rob, to steal.

[UK]Fletcher Mad Lover I i: You men of wares, the men of wars will nick ye: For starve nor beg they must not.
[UK]Wycherley Plain-Dealer Act III: I ventur’d my last stake upon the Squire to nick him of his Mother.
[UK]Cibber Womans Wit I i: maj.: Well! I must forgive you then! humh! y.ra.: I knew you wou’d, or else I had ne’er nick’d you.
[UK]J. Gay Beggar’s Opera II iv: She riveted a Linnen-draper’s Eye so fast upon her, that he was nick’d of three Pieces of Cambric before he could look off.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 480: Thus thieves that wait the time to nick / When they can best your pockets pick.
[UK]M. Robinson Walsingham IV 279: Topas nicked the family plate, and has lumped it by this time.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 125: ‘To nick’ [...] means ‘to cheat’ — of money, of chattels, or of life.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 61: By gar, sare, I no neek him! Ven I do a job, I do it up! I no botch him in zis way – I no neek him.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 3 Feb. 3/2: Murphy pleaded it was a case of agency, and confessed having nicked Mrs. Napthali on the ready.
[UK]J. Greenwood Night in a Workhouse 20: There used to be spoons at all the houses, one time. Poplar used to have ’em; but one at a time they was all nicked, don’t you know.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple I 164: What had he been nicking?
[UK] ‘The Shah at Fleet Street’ Sporting Times 6 July n.p.: The well-known diamond aigrette, and the celebrated emerald were also left behind, to the intense disgust of the staff, who had calculated on nicking out a few stones from the former.
[UK]Bowyer & Baker [perf. Jennie Hill] Thereby Hangs a Tale [lyrics] Hullo! what-cher Ginger! don't I do it tall? / Bone side of a haddick, nicked it off a stall.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 10 Mar. 3/3: It’s well above the reach of ordinary men, but on this occasion someone had ‘nicked’ it [i.e. a cigar].
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 24: First fing I ever nicked was pigeons.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 29 Sept. 7/3: Sometime when they nick a thimble, / Sneak a peter, or such thing, / They will part it to the pusher.
[Aus]Australasian (Melbourne) 13 June 34/1: ‘Why, blow me tight,’ says Burglar Bill, / ‘I’m honest, for I’ll stick / To honesty until I see / A chance to do a nick’.
B. Fisher ‘A. Mutt’ [comic strip] She must have nicked my bankroll. Pipe those new rags.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 6 Apr. 6/5: Marshall managed to nick a silver watch, valued at £2 10s.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 366: We grifters had a damn good right to nick a front or peel a poke so long as Wall Street and Washington were picking everybody’s pockets.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 23: I would go up to a keeper and engage him in conversation while I nicked his purse out of his pocket.
[US]R. Chandler Big Sleep 162: Five grand worth [...] He nicked them for that a while back.
[UK]J. Phelan Letters from the Big House 14: A-doing nine million years for a-nickin’ of the crahn jools.
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: ’E nicked it orf a barrer, I saw ’im.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 26: Ten quid nicked out of Ma’s housekeeping.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 126: Never left him alone she didn’t till he nicked it.
[UK]A. Burgess 1985 (1980) 142: ‘Thieving?’ ‘We don’t like that word. We prefer euphemisms like nicking, knocking off, finding, scrounging.’.
[UK]Beano Comic Library No. 176 20: We’ll wait till it’s dark – then nick it.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. 26 July 27: Being resourceful Nineties kids, they nick the dentist’s credit cards instead.
[UK]B. Hare Urban Grimshaw 9: It’s obvious you’ve nicked it.
[Aus]L. Redhead Cherry Pie [ebook] Three glasses that looked like they’d been nicked from the pub.
[UK]K. Richards Life 81: He wouldn’t nick records.
[UK]A. Wheatle Crongton Knights 67: ‘Simon’s been arrested’ [...] ‘Was he nicking again?’ .

4. to cheat, to swindle.

[UK]G. Whetstone ‘Ortchard of Repentance’ in Rocke of Regard 191: I neuer nickt the poorest of his pay, But if hee lackt, hee had before his day.
[UK]A. Ross Helenore in Wattie Scot. Works (1938) 40: ‘I think,’ quo aunt, ‘ye’re fairly nicked now.’.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 246: When my landlord does not nick me [...] But very fairly fills it full, I just can swigg it at one pull.
[UK]W. Scott Rob Roy (1883) 77: The polite and accomplished adventurer, who nicked you out of your money at White’s.
[UK] ‘’Arry on ’Ome Rule’ Punch 17 July in P. Marks (2006) 122: The Sawnies and Tykes may be nicked by his bosh.
[UK]Academy 22 Feb. 125/1: In the expectation of an early visit from the delightful mimic, she for four mornings was up at seven o’clock, only to find herself, borrowing the slang phrases of the day, ‘choused’, for he nick’d us entirely, and never came at all’ [F&H].
[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 49: ‘I navigated around [...] fer about an hour lookin’ fer a cab driver I knew so that I wouldn’t get nicked’.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 26: The first of those years we nicked the builders, the second the visitors.
[US]E. Hoffman Price ‘Revolt of the Damned’ Double-Action Gang June [Internet] Nothing wrong, nicking Uncle Sam out of customs duties he had no right to, anyway.
[US]J. Thompson ‘The Cellini Chalice’ Fireworks (1988) 74: The girl had that grand she’d nicked him for.

5. to comprehend.

[UK]Cibber She Would and She Would Not III i: vil.: What do you suppose would make me otherwise? d.ma.: Money. vil.: You have nick’t it.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry I iv: You’ve nick’d it: the fact is this, Dicky – you must turn missionary.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple II 261: Now you’ve nicked the core of the whole thing.

6. to apprehend, to arrest; thus nicked adj.1

[UK]J. Townley High Life Below Stairs II i: You have just nick’d them in the very Minute.
[UK]J.G. Holman Abroad and At Home II iii: He had nicked his man, and accosted me accordingly.
[UK]Marryat Japhet 225: That is the other fellow who attacked me, and ran away. He has come to get off his accomplice, and now we’ve just nicked them both.
[UK] ‘Public Life of Mr. Tulrumble’ Bentley’s Misc. Jan. 61: They’d nick him.
[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. xvi: The nerve of that guy thinking he could pinch me. I’ll have you know that I am only nicked by the best cops on Broadway.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 134: Nick.– [...] to arrest.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 70: If they nick a bloke for us we never hear the last of it and there’s supposed to be solidarity and team-work among policemen.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 145/1: Nick, v. 1. (Briticism, heard rarely in American coastal cities) To arrest; to commit to jail or prison.
[UK]C. MacInnes Mr Love and Justice (1964) 161: But, sir ... who nicked her?
[UK](con. 1950s–60s) G. Tremlett Little Legs 37: They’ll never nick me for it now.
[UK]J. Hoskison Inside 32: Cossers are desperate to nick ’im, surveillance, the lot.
[UK]G. Malkani Londonstani (2007) 128: The police are looking for any excuse to nick you.
[UK]K. Koke ‘Letter Home’ [lyrics] Police come, and nicked me for attempted murder.

7. in fig. use of sense 1, to win other than in gambling.

[UK]G. Stevens ‘The Sentiment Song’ Songs Comic and Satyrical 62: And he must have luck, to be sure, who throws in, / ’Tis the statesman who sets, his friends nick their places.

8. to appeal to, to capture one’s interest.

[UK] ‘’Arry on Chivalry’ Punch 20 July 177: Poets don’t nick me, nohow.

9. (orig. US) to demand, to beg.

A. Pinkerton Strikers 54: He will then immediately edge around the boys and ‘nick the office.’ ‘Nicking’ the office consists in begging [...] for nickels, or any other loose change.
[UK]Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves 55: Nick him for the paltriest sum and he lets out a squawk you can hear at Land’s End.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 163: nick To make a touch.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 64: Gorringe was trying to nick me for a thousand quid.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 5: He grudges every penny the Government nicks him for.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 15 Aug. in Proud Highway (1997) 386: A great relief to hear you nicked Ridley for money.

10. to earn, the implication is of undeservedly.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 13 Mar. 8/2: When Melba was mopping up boodle in this country it was freely stated in every paper (each one different) what she was nicking out of her Aus. tour.

11. a weak use of the senses of to rob and to cheat above, to charge, with implication of excessive price.

[US]Van Loan ‘Loosening Up of Hogan’ in Ten-Thousand-Dollar Arm 155: Ain’t that the place where they nick you eighty cents a platter for soup?
[US]‘Paul Cain’ ‘One, Two, Three’ in Penzler Pulp Fiction (2006) 15: The doctor nicked me two-fifty.

12. to deprive of, to cost.

[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Malibu Mess’ in Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective Dec. [Internet] His spectacular escapades had nicked this older brother of his for copious hunks of geetus—although Harlow never seemed to balk when it came to paying the piper.

13. (US) to find fault with someone.

[US]T. Alibrandi Custody 283: Whenever Sabina starts nicking at you because she doesn’t feel good about herself [...] I want you, mentally, to turn offf your hearing aid.

14. (UK Und.) to seduce.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 87: Could never nick a bird. If Kevin the Cab fell in a barrel of tits he’d climb out sucking his thumb.

In derivatives

In phrases

nick it (v.)

1. to win, usu. by good fortune or cheating.

[UK]Massinger Parliament of Love V i: Haue I not nick’d it tutor?
[UK]Villiers Rehearsal III i: I gad, Sir, and you have nick’d it.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Nick it, to win at Dice [...] to hit the Mark.
[UK]S. Centlivre Gamester Act I: Come, throw a Main, Sir, then I’ll instruct you how to nick it.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795) n.p.: nick it to win.
[UK]T. Hood ‘A Public Dinner’ Works (1862) II 419: At seven, you just nick it, / Give card – get wine ticket.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 180: ‘He’s nicked it,’ i.e., won his point.

2. (also nick the pin) to drink fairly, i.e. not taking more than one’s share of the tankard (which was marked by pins).

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Nick it to hit the Mark, to Drink the pin to, or button.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[[US]Matsell Vocabulum 67: pin To drink one’s allotted share].
out on the nick

going stealing.

[US]Ian Dury ‘Razzle in my Pocket’ [lyrics] In my yellow jersey, I went out on the nick. / South Street Romford, shopping arcade.