from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Chiefly British Slang One, usually unemployed, who lives by one's wits.
- n. Chiefly British Slang One who shirks work or responsibility; a slacker.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. a smartly dressed person who trades in illicit, black-market or stolen goods
- n. a flashy con artist, often homeless, who lives by his wits
- n. in Scotland Yard usage, a low and common thief
- n. a slacker; one who shirks responsibility
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a person without employment who makes money by various dubious schemes; goes about smartly dressed and having a good time
Dialectal spif, dandified, dandy.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Perhaps from spiff, spiffy. 'Spiv' was the nickname of Henry Bagster, a Londoner arrested a number of times in 1904-6 for activities as described below, and may have been the archetype. (Wiktionary)