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Wide boy

Posted by ESC on June 22, 2008 at 21:57

In Reply to: Wide boy posted by Gary Martin on June 20, 2008 at 14:12:

: : 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'.

What is a spiv?