1. [late 16C–18C] a strolling vagabond, a beggar, a criminal mendicant.
2. [late 16C–1940s] (also tart, tarterer) a general derog. description.
3. [late 18C–19C] a champion, an expert.
[late 17C+] to encounter an apparent victim or weakling who turns out to be much stronger than suspected.