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grifter

[grif-ter]
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noun Slang.
  1. a person who operates a side show at a circus, fair, etc., especially a gambling attraction.
  2. a swindler, dishonest gambler, or the like.

Origin of grifter

First recorded in 1910–15; grift + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Word Origin and History for grifter

n.

"confidence trickster," 1906, carnival and circus slang, probably an alteration of grafter (see graft (n.2); also cf. grift). Gradually extended to "any non-violent criminal."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper