1. (US Und.) a criminal’s unskilled accomplice; any type of hired thug.
|Vocabulum 41: heeler An accomplice of the pocket-book dropper. The heeler stoops behind the victim, and strikes one of his heels as if by mistake; this draws his attention to the pocket-book that lies on the ground.|
|Confessions of Convict 23: With the help of his heeler and aid-de-camp [...] Bray continued to work off most of his grudges.|
|Yarn of Bucko Mate 114: Jake was stabbed to the heart with his own dirk, an’ his heeler, Portugee Joe, says it was a Gringo sailor.|
|Boss 127: Jimmy the Blacksmith and his heelers are driving our people from the polls.|
|DAUL 94/1: Heeler. 1. A bouncer, especially in shady establishments.et al.|
2. (US) a hanger-on who performs tasks for a politician or political party in the hope of personal aggrandizement.
|N.Y. Times 26 June 1/1: A gentleman happened to say that the gang in the room was composed of Tammany ‘heelers’.|
|Their Pilgrimage 268: To have fine clothes, drink champagne, and pose in a fashionable bar-room in the height of the season – is not this the apotheosis of the ‘heeler’ and the ward ‘worker’?|
|Yale Yarns 84: It’s run entirely by Dwight Hall heelers.|
|Actual Government 99: The local man, often called a ‘heeler,’ has his body of adherents [DA].|
|Types from City Streets 59: A young ‘heeler’ who claims to be ‘very near’ Tim Sullivan is one of the most charming fellows of my acquaintance.|
|Two & Three 12 Feb. [synd. col.] Where is the ward heeler, Abou Ben Ahmed? May his bribe increase.|
|Broadway Melody 8: An entrenched battalion of burglars, sheiks, corruptionists, cake eaters, flask toters and theatrical heelers to plug it — and, presto!|
|Barbary Coast (2002) 79: Enlisted under Broderick’s banner were many former Tammany heelers and sluggers.|
|Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
|USA Confidential 68: It is usually necessary to make a special under-table payment to a union heeler who bosses the particular project.|
|Flesh Peddlers (1964) 179: G-stringed, tassel-nippled strippers for a ward heelers’ stag in Jersey City.|
3. any form of servant or accomplice.
|Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 22 May 14/2: The New York heelers were going to make a clean sweep with their brooms.|
|Star-Gaz. (Elmira, NY) 15 May 4/3: Yale College Slang [...] [A]fter feeding my face I blew down to Mory’s with a couple of heelers.|
|Scarlet City 40: The prelate’s heeler unearthed a copy of Bell’s Life [...] and proceeded to read the account of a prize fight.|
4. (US Und.) a sneak thief.
|Types from City Streets 56: No one except a thief has a keener sense of gratitude. A notorious heeler said to me ‘Do you know...’.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|