Definition of spiv in English:



  • A man, typically a flashy dresser, who makes a living by disreputable dealings.

    • ‘She would recount how it was possible to buy anything - from meat, chocolate, cigarettes and the obligatory ‘nylons’ - from the spivs and black market racketeers.’
    • ‘Dire circumstances gave social sanction to small scale corruption and spivs were simultaneously despised and admired as buccaneers.’
    • ‘Glass cites the example of the Soviet Union, whose old nomenklatura may now be numbered among ‘the tyrants and spivs of the succeeding capitalist order’.’
    • ‘That, and the simple fact that anybody with a gimmick on prime-time TV is bound to be a hit no matter what they do, whether it's nuns and paintings or suited spivs with antiques.’
    • ‘Get rid of these dreadful spivs with their electric guitars and let's up the current affairs quota!’
    • ‘A bored telemarketer teams up with a mate for a get-rich scam that takes on all the get-richer spivs.’
    • ‘Lincoln thought twice about extending her sportsmanship to helping the sepultural spiv up as she realized this would be seen as a demoralizing gesture rather than a respectful one.’
    • ‘In the foreground, the spivs of spin hawk their pretty baubles.’
    • ‘One of the choicest ironies is that he now speaks with disapproval about black marketeers, spivs and touts and unofficial operators, and has nothing but praise for his new friends in the RFU.’
    • ‘They watched in wonder as bankers, industrialists and assorted spivs piled up more and more riches.’
    • ‘Harry is fed up being confused, alarmed and he finds he has seized the little weasel, the little spiv and ground him like pretzel against the dividing panel.’
    • ‘Guys like him are part of the English culture - he's like the spiv from the Second World War.’
    • ‘My new government of troglodytes, murderers and spivs barely elongates the customary scream I give upon waking.’
    • ‘Martin Clunes plays George Haigh, a wartime spiv who murdered nine people and dissolved their bodies in acid.’
    • ‘The single exceptions (apart from the wicked spiv who finds the girls) are the only two working-class characters who show any signs of aspiration or youth.’
    • ‘Chairman of the Mid-Hants Watercress Line, David Snow, dressed as a spiv for the occasion, said the weekend was a resounding success with the first day attracting bigger crowds than last year.’
    • ‘I thought the art of the spiv had died out years ago.’
    • ‘What such a history would particularly need to convey in relation to higher education is the paradigm shift brought about since 1992 by the increasing influence of the spivs in suits (aka managers).’
    • ‘Another accusation thrown at the market is that its light regulatory touch could open the door to spivs and hopeless cases.’
    • ‘Regulars will be dressing up for the occasion too - as everything from wartime spivs to army officers and nurses.’


1930s: perhaps related to spiffy.