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[grif-ter] /ˈgrɪf tər/
noun, Slang.
a person who operates a side show at a circus, fair, etc., especially a gambling attraction.
a swindler, dishonest gambler, or the like.
Origin of grifter
1910-15; grift + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for grifter
  • In his cross-examination, he proceeded to portray her as a lying grifter.
  • As the amiable grifter with an iron ego, he projects a distinctly bouncy likable personality into an unusual role.
Word Origin and History for grifter

"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
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Slang definitions & phrases for grifter


  1. A gambler (Circus)
  2. A confidence trickster, hawker, minor criminal, etc
  3. A hobo; vagabond; drifter (1915+ Carnival & circus)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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