Green’s Dictionary of Slang

diver n.

[dive v. (1)/SE dive]

1. a small boy who, like Oliver Twist in Charles Dickens’s novel (1837–9), is put in through an otherwise impassably small window; once inside the house, he either lets in the gang or passes booty out to them.

[UK]Greene Second Part of Conny-Catching in Grosart (1881–3) X 123: Beside there is a Dyuer [...] for as he puts in a hooke, so the other puts in at the windowe some little figging boy, who playes his parts notably, and perhaps the youth is so well instructed that he is a scholler in the blacke Arte, and can pick a locke.
[UK]Dekker Belman of London G: The Diuer workes his Iugling feates by the help of a boy, (called a Figger) whom he thrusts in at a casement.

2. a man in the context of having sexual intercourse.

[UK]Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra II v: ’Twas merry when You wagered on your angling; when your diver Did hang a salt-fish on his hook which he With fervency drew up.
[UK]W. Somerville ‘A Dainty New Ballad’ in Chalmers Eng. Poets (1810) XI 207/1: At length a youth full smart, Who oft by magic art Had div’d in many a hole [...] He’d sound it with his pole. [...] Engag’d her love-sick heart; Quoth she, my pretty Diver, With thee I’ll live for ever.

3. (also diving file) a pickpocket.

[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle V i: omnes: Foist! what’s that? mol.: A diver with two fingers; a pickpocket; all his train study the figging law, that’s to say cutting of purses and foisting.
[UK]J. Melton Astrologaster 7: I am going home againe purposing thereafter to take heed of two Pick-pockets; the one, the Diuer that met with me in Pauls Church-yard; the other, the Doctor in Moore-fields, that rob’d me as well as the first.
[UK]Dick of Devonshire in Bullen II (1883) II iv: Your horse and weapons I will take, but no pilferage. I am no pocketeer, no diver into slopps.
Caveat for Cutpurses n.p.: The Divel of hell in his trade is not worse / Then [sic] Gilter, and Diver, and cutter of purse.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 84: It is ten pound to a penny but she plays Diver and picks his pocket.
[UK]N. Ward ‘A Trip to Jamaica’ in Writings (1704) 166: They are look’d upon as a bungling Diver amonst a gang of Expert Pick-Pockets.
[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 294: Water-lane Divers, alias Pick-Pockets, contrive new stratagems to amuse unwary Passengers, till they File the Cly.
Life and Glorious Actions of [...] Jonathan Wilde 16: One of the Bulking Files snabbles hill Poll (which is snatching away his Hat) and there by the Cull to save his Hat whips his Hands out of his Pockets [...] and in the mean time a Diving File Picks his Pocket.
[UK]J. Gay Beggar’s Opera II iv: If any Woman hath more Art than another, to be sure ’tis Jenny Diver [...] she can pick his Pocket as cooly, as if Money were her only Pleasure.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 193: She enter’d herself into the Society of Divers, otherwise call’d File-clyers, Cut-purses, or Pick-pockets.
[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account of the Malefactors executed at Tyburn 18th Mar. 1740 Part II 5: She got her Name amongst her Companions of Jenny Diver, alias Diving Jenny from her great Dexterity in picking Pockets.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 29: There are others that use the Cant [...] The Diver, or Pick-Pocket.
[UK]Bloody Register III 165: Mary Young [...] was so great a proficient in her art, that she got the name amongst her companions of Jenny Diver, or Diving Jenny, from her great dexterity in picking pockets.
[UK]Only True and Exact Calendar title page: Jenny Diver and Moll Cook, are just arrived for Nag Fair, they exercise Gentlemen on the Course.
[UK]J. Messink Choice of Harlequin I viii: Ye scamps, ye pads, ye divers, and all upon the lay.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Apr. XVI 26/2: Ye scamps, ye pads, ye divers, / You’re all upon the lay.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Annals of Sporting 1 Mar. 175: How the divers did stare.
[UK] ‘Ye Scamps, Ye Pads, Ye Divers’ Regular Thing, And No Mistake 62: [as cit. 1781–2].
[UK]New Sprees of London 23: This is a regular dirty vagabond refuge for the low shicksters of Drury-lane and its environs, and all the ragged divers and prigs of that neighbourhood.
[UK] ‘The Honour of the Family’ Town Talk 10 July 110: Thieves of every grade, from the swaggering gentleman [...] to the diver or pickpocket.
[UK]Story of a Lancashire Thief 8: What a lot of them there was! And all sorts, too, but divers especially.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]H. Baumann ‘Sl. Ditty’ Londinismen (2nd edn) v: Are smashers and divers / And noble contrivers / Not sold to the beaks / By the coppers an’ sneaks?
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[US]Wash. Post 11 Nov. Miscellany 3/4: Gone is the time when the ‘swell mob’ went out on the road [...] and did business with divers ‘fixers’ who saw to it that they were allowed to work without a ‘pinch’ as an arrest was called.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 59/1: Diver. One who robs drunkards.
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 107: A ‘dip’ or ‘diver’ is a pickpocket.

4. one who lives in a cellar.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

5. in pl., the fingers.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

6. (US) a beggar who forages in garbage cans for food.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 70: diver [...] a beggar or tramp who digs hungrily in garbage cans when a prospect is seen approaching.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 12: Sell the boy a Ranger autograph, give the money to the Dumpster diver. A T-bird contribution.