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Crossword clues for spiv

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Oddly, we had no spivs.
▪ The spivs will wave away any objections with promises about easy resale, low cost finance and tiny deposit payments.
▪ The wartime spivs, the teddy boys and the mods each had their own distinctive hair style.
▪ The word for them in the Euromarkets is spivs.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"petty crook who will turn his hand to anything so long as it does not involve honest work," 1934, British slang, probably dating back to late 19c. and connected with spiff (see spiffy) in one of its various senses. Being a flashy dresser was a spiv characteristic.\n\nThe spiv reached his apotheosis during World War II and the succeeding years, when the disrupted economic conditions allowed ample scope for unofficial trading (a pair of nylons here, a few packets of cigarettes there) and other petty crime. He became a stock figure in the English social comedy, represented on screen by such stereotypes as 'Flash Harry' (played by George Cole) in the St. Trinian's films and Pte. Walker in Dad's Army. [Ayto, "20th Century Words"]


n. 1 (context British dated English) A smartly dressed person who trades in illicit, black-market or stolen goods. 2 (context British dated English) A flashy con artist, often homeless, who lives by his wits. 3 (context British dated English) In Scotland Yard usage, a low and common thief. 4 (context British dated English) A slacker; one who shirks responsibility.


n. a person without employment who makes money by various dubious schemes; goes about smartly dressed and having a good time


In the United Kingdom, the word spiv is slang for a type of petty criminal who deals in illicit, typically black market, goods. The word was particularly used during the Second World War and in the post-war period when many goods were rationed due to shortages.

According to Peter Wollen, "The crucial difference between the spiv and the classic Hollywood gangster was the degree of sympathy the spiv gained as an intermediary in the transfer of black market goods to ... a grateful mass of consumers."

Usage examples of "spiv".

Mr Conway, who had a sharp but accurate tongue, called him Louis the Spiv, for Mr Kay taught French to the lower forms and Economics on the Science side.

It was only that we heard the Spiv having a frightful row with someone.

Is Sammy now going to be able to let Susie and me have nylon stockings on demand instead of a pair here and there from his spiv sources?

Fred, just a silly spiv with no sense, so Fred, I guess, marched him straight off to Epping Forest and left him for the birds.

If he flashed money on the spot, he could seem like a spiv or a wide-boy.

His fleet of Stealth transports made nightly flights over England, distributing their wares to a country-wide network of spivs like demonic Santas.

I would fly the gear in, and my spivs would distribute it, sometimes through the black market, sometimes through the Party Allocation Bureau.

His spivs take the barter goods and exchange them for gold or silver or diamonds, some sort of precious commodity acceptable internationallyNew Sterling was no good, it was a restricted currency under the PSP.

England, distributing their wares to a countrywide network of spivs like demonic Santas.

Denis, who, after the contest with the spivs, had seated himself beside the driver whilst the Irishmen, nursing their guns, lay bumpily asprawl among the cargo.

It is a city of gnifters, whores, smugglers, pushers, drug wholesalers, spivs, pimps, hire hatchets, military mercenaries, recruiters, fences, fagins, beggars, clandestine surgeons, blackbirders, glimjacks, outstanders, short con, long con, sting riggers, girlboys, you name it, they sell it in Vicksburg low town.

Greg used to enjoy the souk-like atmosphere of the town centre, but the economic upswing was steadily squeezing street traders and spivs out of national life.