Posted by Gary Martin on June 20, 2008 at 14:12
In Reply to: Wide boy posted by Julian Marchant on June 20, 2008 at 14:02:
: I am curious about the derivation of the British term 'wide boy' in the sense of a latter day spiv.
This term was lodged in my memory as relating to the wide-lapelled 'teddy-boy' suits, favoured by spivs, like the Flash Harry character that George Cole played in the St. Trinians films.
Apparently not. The OED lists one of the slang meanings of 'wide' as:
"Wide-awake, cute; shrewd, sharp-witted; (dishonestly) cunning or knowledgeable; skilled in sharp practice; engaging in shady dealings."
and puts that as the source of 'wide boy'.