UK ante-1561. From patients claiming, genuinely or not, to be temporarily discharged from the Abraham ward at Bethlem Royal Hospital (also known as Bedlam)—a psychiatric hospital in London, Kingdom of England—for the purpose of begging.
First attested in The Fraternity of Vagabonds (1561) by John Awdely.
- (archaic, Britain, cant, historical) A mentally ill beggar.
- (archaic, Britain, cant, historical) By extension, any beggar who pretends to be ill, physically or mentally, to obtain alms.
- Abram, Abram-cove, Abram cove, Abraham-cove, Abraham cove, Bedlam beggar, God's minstrel, Poor Tom, Tom of Bedlam, Tom of Bedlam's man
- Abraham sham, Abram sham
- sham Abraham, sham Abram
- do Abram
- Abraham suit
- go on the Abraham suit
- Abraham work
- Grose, Francis (1788) A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 2nd edition, London: S. Hooper
- Grose, Francis, The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue / Lexicon Balatronicum: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence: altered and enlarged (London; 1811)
- Barrère, Albert; Leland, Charles Godfrey (1889) A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant, volume 1, pages 7–8
- Farmer, John Stephen (1890) Slang and Its Analogues, volume 1, pages 9–10