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6 entries found.
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cheater (n.)

early 14c., "royal officer in charge of the king's escheats," short for escheater, agent noun from escheat (and compare cheat (v.)). Meaning "dishonest player" is recorded from 1530s.

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swindle (v.)
1782, back-formation from swindler "cheater." Related: Swindled; swindling. As a noun, "act of swindling," from 1833.
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scam 
1963, noun and verb, U.S. slang, a carnival term, of unknown origin. Perhaps related to 19c. British slang scamp "cheater, swindler" (see scamp (n.)).
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fraud (n.)

mid-14c., "criminal deception" (mid-13c. in Anglo-Latin); from Old French fraude "deception, fraud" (13c.), from Latin fraudem (nominative fraus) "a cheating, deceit," of persons "a cheater, deceiver," of uncertain origin. Connections have been proposed to Sanskrit dhruti- "deception; error."

Meaning "a fraudulent production, something intended to deceive" is from 1650s. The meaning "impostor, deceiver, pretender; humbug" is attested from 1850. Pious fraud (1560s) is properly "deception practiced for the sake of what is deemed a good purpose;" colloquially used as "person who talks piously but is not pious at heart."

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kleptomania (n.)

also cleptomania, 1830, formed from mania + Greek kleptes "thief, a cheater," from kleptein "to steal, act secretly," from PIE *klep- "to steal" (an extension of root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save"); cognate with Latin clepere "to steal, listen secretly to," Old Prussian au-klipts "hidden," Old Church Slavonic poklopu "cover, wrapping," Gothic hlifan "to steal," hliftus "thief."

The word was much-derided in 19c. as a fancy term for old-fashioned thievery and an opportunity for the privileged to claim a psychological motive for criminal misbehavior.

There is a popular belief that some of the criminal laws under which the poor are rigorously punished are susceptible of remarkable elasticity when the peccadilloes of the rich are brought under judgment, and that there is some truth in the old adage which declares that "one man may steal a horse where another dare not look over the hedge." This unwholesome distrust is not likely to diminish if, in cases of criminal prosecutions where so-called respectable persons commit theft without sufficiently obvious motive for the act, they have their crime extenuated on the plea of kleptomania, as has recently occurred in several notable instances. ["Kleptomania," The Lancet, Nov. 16, 1861]
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scalper (n.)
1650s as a type of surgical instrument; 1760 as "one who removes scalps," agent noun from scalp (v.).

Meaning "person who re-sells tickets at unauthorized prices for a profit," 1869, American English; earliest reference is to theater tickets, but often used late 19c. of brokers who sold unused portions of railway tickets. [Railways charged less per mile for longer-distance tickets; therefore someone traveling from New York to Chicago could buy a ticket all the way to San Francisco, get out at Chicago and sell it to a scalper, and come away with more money than if he had simply bought a ticket to Chicago; the Chicago scalper would hold the ticket till he found someone looking for a ticket to San Francisco, then sell it to him at a slight advance, but for less than the official price.] Perhaps from scalp (v.); scalper was a generic term for "con man, cheater" in late 19c. Or perhaps the connecting sense is the bounty offered for scalps of certain destructive animals (attested in New England from 1703) and sometimes Indians (i.e., having only part of something, but still getting paid). Some, though, see a connection rather to scalpel, the surgical instrument.
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