a person who poses as a customer in order to decoy others into participating, as at a gambling house, auction, confidence game, etc.
a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.

verb (used without object)

to work as a shill: He shills for a large casino.

verb (used with object)

to advertise or promote (a product) as or in the manner of a huckster; hustle: He was hired to shill a new TV show.

Origin of shill

First recorded in 1920–25; origin uncertain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shill

Contemporary Examples of shill

Historical Examples of shill

  • I got mixed up with the Philip on the shilling, and I kept yelling, Shill!

    The Little Colonel: Maid of Honor

    Annie Fellows Johnston

  • The shill led the way to an eight-foot tower mounted on gimbals.

    Gambler's World

    John Keith Laumer

  • I shill have the whole town on my side, you may be certain of that!

    Three Comedies

    Bjrnstjerne M. Bjrnson

  • That is, he needed no more assistance that most magicians do—a shill in the audience.

    The Foreign Hand Tie

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • In this particular case, the shill was his brother, Leonard Poe.

    The Foreign Hand Tie

    Gordon Randall Garrett

British Dictionary definitions for shill



slang a confidence trickster's assistant, esp a person who poses as an ordinary customer, gambler, etc, in order to entice others to participate

Word Origin for shill

C20: perhaps shortened from shillaber a circus barker, of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for shill

"one who acts as a decoy for a gambler, auctioneer, etc.," 1916, probably originally circus or carnival argot, probably a shortened form of shillaber (1913) with the same meaning, origin unknown. The verb is attested from 1914. Related: Shilled; shilling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper