Green’s Dictionary of Slang

spiv n.

also spive
[? Rom. spiv, sparrow, used by gypsies as a derog. ref. to those who existed by picking up the leavings of their betters, criminal or legitimate; alternative theories include the reverse of V.I.P.s or police abbr. suspected persons and itinerant vagrants; note also spiff n. (1)]

a flashy, sharp individual who exists on the fringes of real criminality, living by their wits rather than a regular job; also attrib.

[UK]C.G. Gordon Crooks of the Und. 230: Supposing a clique of Manchester ‘spives’ were coming down to London.
[UK]J. Curtis You’re in the Racket, Too 31: Turning it into a right flash neighbourhood instead of the leery old alley it used to be when he was a spiv.
[UK]J. Worby Spiv’s Progress 47: I knew a spiv in Old Compton Street [...] he asked me if I wanted to make a bit of easy dough [Ibid.] 202: They were spivs [...] They lived by all manner of tricks, matching their wits against the public and keeping out of the hands of the police .
[UK]S. Jackson Indiscreet Guide to Soho 113: In Soho you will see ‘spivs.’ They are the men who have no fixed occupation and live on their wits.
[UK]C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 65: Mayfair is just top spivs stepping into the slippers of the former gentry.
[UK]B. Naughton ‘Late Night on Watling Street’ in Late Night on Watling Street (1969) 7: A real spiv kid, the clothes, the walk.
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 99: Spivs and gamblers dodging the police, and groups dancing to portable gramophones.
[Aus]J. Wynnum I’m a Jack, All Right 10: There ought to be a law to protect the dumb bunnies from spivs like Thumper.
[UK]P. Theroux Picture Palace 88: The hangers-on, girlfriends, spivs, and bookies. ‘My people,’ he called them.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 131: The new generation of City spivs fell over themselves [...] to overpay.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 21 Aug. 10: Her desperation to see her father as a knight in shining armour – rather than the feckless spiv that he actually is.
[UK]M. Rowson Stuff 106: My grandmother would be beguiled by some spiv who’d set up his stall hawking the latest labour-saving tat.
[Aus]G. Gilmore Headland [ebook] He’d always liked the idea of bring a spiv.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 37: [C]ajoling bodega-omis, flattering sailors and charverings spivs.

In derivatives

spivmobile (n.) [-mobile sfx]

an exceptionally ostentatious and flashy car, such as might be driven by a spiv or their successors.

[US]Times (Shreveport, LA) 12 Oct. 89/1: By using words like spivmobile, prawnhead or cobber, slang slingers risk being misunderstood.
[Aus]Canberra Times (ACT) 16 Jan. 4/5: I can confirm that the [Jaguar] Mark II is the ideal spivmobile.
Parry & Azulay Arsenal World 1 Sept. 🌐 Panic set in and I had completely forgotten my hunger, as I swung the spivmobile through a 180 and headed back round this ring road.
[UK]Observer 29 Dec. 100/1: The car has become more of an ‘I have mucho money’ spivmobile than [...] a way of going from A to B.

In compounds

spiv-dressed (adj.)

wearing clothes characteristic of the spiv; note ad hoc var. at cit. 1968.

[Ire](con. 1930s) J. Healy Death of an Irish Town 20: They came in new suits and flashy ties, spiv-knotted.
[US]E. Grogan Ringolevio 235: The spiv-dressed comedian.
spiv suit (n.)

a flashy suit as worn by, and denoting a spiv.

[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 352: Telling me about ’is spiv suits he wore.