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spiv

A discussion of slang and the changes it undergoes.

spiv

Postby eberntson » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:40 pm

Main Entry: spiv
Pronunciation: \ˈspiv\
Function: noun
Etymology: alteration of English dial. spiff flashy dresser, from spiff dandified
Date: circa 1934
1 British : a man who lives by his wits without regular employment
2 British : slacker 1
— spiv·vy \ˈspi-vē\ adjective, British

This seems to be related to spiff, spiffy, dandy, etc. Just wondering where the "spif" root comes from?
EBERNTSON
Fear less, hope more;
eat less, chew more;
whine less, breathe more;
talk less, say more,
and all good things will be yours.
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Re: spiv

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:35 pm

I kept confusing spiv with shiv, which is a knife, often used of homemade knives, especially in prison. So far as I can find, neither word has a solid etymology, but seems to have arisen from the underworld, including both criminal and the poor. Slang, obviously.
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Re: spiv

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:22 am

My understanding of spiv is a harsher one than eberntson's citaion. I have heard and used this word from childhood to include sharps, sharks, scammers, and general low life on the border of, if not actually, criminal. In recent Googling I find a harsher definition than eberntson's in some of the entries. If I were in England, I would avoid people known to be spivs. One of my cousins is named Spivey. He lived in Australia for several years, and frequently got negative reactions to his name. I know a upstanding gentleman named Fant. Perry knows him also. When Fant was on a plane to Norway, the flight attendant did a doubletake on his name and then asked him if he knew Norwegian. He said he knew some and enough to know the definition of Fant. She suggested he might want to change his name. Fant told me that a fant in Norway is something like a spiv in England. He didn't change his name.
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