American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth 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.
- n. UK, dated a smartly dressed person who trades in illicit, black-market or stolen goods
- n. UK, dated a flashy con artist, often homeless, who lives by his wits
- n. UK, dated in Scotland Yard usage, a low and common thief
- n. UK, dated a slacker; one who shirks responsibility
- n. a person without employment who makes money by various dubious schemes; goes about smartly dressed and having a good time
- 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)
- Dialectal spif, dandified, dandy. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Update: Upon reflection I think Mr Weston might well be seen as a slightly camp version of what the English used to call a "spiv".”
“This political 'spiv' gave no thought to the aftermath of his decisions internationally or nationally.”
“However, he was only following the precedent set by the spineless grinning 'spiv' Blair who constantly referred to and talked about:”
“Finally, the word "spiv": no fashion lesson here, just enjoyment of the word's debut on this page.”
“- the stupidity of so many voters who believed in the vacuous 'spiv' Blair and the spin from Campbell and the twice disgraced Mandelson.”
“The roots lie in the British 80s and 90s -- two decades defined by the "chav" and "spiv" culture that was the fruit of the Murdoch 'n' Maggie as in Margaret Thatcher union.”
“HM Treasury famously preens itself as having a collection of the very finest minds Oxbridge can produce – a pity then their principal activity seems to be devising spiv-like ways of deceiving the punters.”
“The spiv, the showman; Mr Blair promised a brave new world - a shining castle on the hill - very Reaganish... a promise he most certainly could not uphold as there was no hill, the castle was made of papier mache and when the rains came it melted away......”
“Libertines frontman Pete Doherty was "pathetic, a spiv".”
“Alderman sidled up in the manner of Dad's Army's resident spiv Joe Walker with a pocketful of petrol coupons to shift at the policeman's ball.”
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You're on the grift, same as me.
Not all English. Apologies.
Looking for tweets for spiv.