fingersmith

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English[edit]

Noun[edit]

fingersmith (plural fingersmiths) fin +‎ -ger +‎ -smith

  1. pickpocket
    • 1977, Roald Dahl, The Hitchhiker, Atlantic Monthly
      "What do you call yourself, then?" "Me? I'm a fingersmith. I'm a professional fingersmith." He spoke the words solemnly and proudly, as though he were telling me he was the President of the Royal College of Surgeons or the Archbishop of Canterbury."I've never heard that word before," I said. "Did you invent it?" "Of course I didn't invent it," he replied. "It's the name given to them who's risen to the very top of the profession. You've 'eard of a goldsmith and a silversmith, for instance. They're experts with gold and silver. I'm an expert with my fingers, so I'm a fingersmith." "It must be an interesting job." "It's a marvellous job," he answered. "It's lovely." "And that's why you go to the races?" "Race meetings is easy meat," he said. "You just stand around after the race, watchin' for the lucky ones to queue up and draw their money. And when you see someone collectin' a big bundle of notes, you simply follows after 'im and 'elps yourself.
  2. midwife

Usage notes[edit]

slang, archaic, historical

Comment[edit]

Alternative spelling "finger-smith". Title of Sarah Water's 2002 novel in meaning #1.

Source[edit]

OED: fingersmith