fingersmith n. slang (now chiefly archaic or historical) (a) a midwife; (b) a thief; spec. a pickpocket.
1819 J. H. Vaux New Vocab. Flash Lang. in Memoirs II. 173 Finger-smith, a midwife.
1823 P. Egan Grose's Classical Dict. Vulgar Tongue (rev. ed.) Finger-smiths, Thieves. Midwives.
1829 Lancet 28 Feb. 585/2 If such a person should, by chance, be a handy finger-smith, and be competent to the duties of the vocation.
1877 Standard 20 Dec. 5/5 A gong [which sounds when the shop door is opened] is no protection whatever against a ‘finger smith’ who knows the plan.
1924 Indian Rev. Nov. 668/1 The life of a pickpocket, or 'finger smith' as his confreres call him, is in some respects more exciting than that of a burglar.
1967 F. G. Cassidy & R. B. Le Page Dict. Jamaican Eng. 178/1 Finger-smith,..a thief.
1988 H. Lawrence in J. McKenna Obstetr. & Gynaecol. iii. 43 A woman in labour was visited by a midwife known lewdly as a ‘fingersmith’.
2002 S. Waters Fingersmith i. 7 By then, Flora was quite the fingersmith: the Surrey was nothing to her, she was working the West End theatres and halls.
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