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Shiv, also chiv, schiv, and shivvie, is a homemade knife-like weapon, especially one fashioned in prison. The word is possibly derived from the 1670s underworld cant word for "knife," chive. Other sources list the Romani word for the same object, chivomengro, as a more likely origin.The derived verb, shiv means "to stab someone", a shivver being the criminal who attacks victims with a knife. A knife improvised in prison is also often called a shank.
The word is prison slang for an improvised knife. The word generally applies to both stabbing and edged weapons. A shiv can be anything from a glass shard with fabric wrapped around one end to form a handle, to a razor blade stuck in the end of a toothbrush, to a simple toothbrush handle, filed into a sharp point.
In the 1950s, British criminal Billy Hill described his use of the shiv:
I was always careful to draw my knife down on the face, never across or upwards. Always down. So that if the knife slips you don't cut an artery. After all, chivving is chivving, but cutting an artery is usually murder. Only mugs do murder.
In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, weapons, sharpened instruments, and knives are considered contraband and their possession is punishable as a highest severity-level prohibited act.
Rhyming slang is a form of slang word construction in the English language. It is especially prevalent in the UK, Ireland and Australia. It was first used in the early 19th century in the East End of London; hence its alternative name, Cockney rhyming slang. In the United States, especially the criminal underworld of the West Coast between 1880 and 1920, rhyming slang has sometimes been known as Australian slang.
Gallows are a frame, typically wooden, from which objects can be hung or "weighed". Gallows were thus widely used for public weighing scales for large objects such as sacks of grain or minerals, usually positioned in markets or toll gates. The term was also used for a framework from which a ship’s anchor might be raised so that it no longer sitting on the bottom, i.e., "weighing [the] anchor".
Gook is a derogatory term for people of Asian descent. The term may have originated among U.S. Marines during the Philippine-American War. If so, it could be related to the use of "gook" as a slang term for prostitute during that period. Historically, U.S. military personnel used the word to refer to non-Americans of various races. The earliest published example is dated 1920 and notes that U.S. Marines then in Haiti used the term to refer to Haitians. It acquired its current racial meaning as a result of movies dealing with the Vietnam War.
A balisong, also known as a fan knife, butterfly knife or Batangas knife, is a type of folding pocketknife that originated in the Philippines. Its distinct features are two handles counter-rotating around the tang such that, when closed, the blade is concealed within grooves in the handles. A latch holds the handles together, typically mounted on the one facing the cutting edge.
A bolo is a large cutting tool of Filipino origin similar to the machete. It is used particularly in the Philippines, the jungles of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as in the sugar fields of Cuba.
An ulu is an all-purpose knife traditionally used by Inuit, Yupik, and Aleut women. It is utilized in applications as diverse as skinning and cleaning animals, cutting a child's hair, cutting food and, if necessary, trimming blocks of snow and ice used to build an igloo.
An informant is a person who provides privileged information about a person or organization to an agency. The term is usually used within the law enforcement world, where they are officially known as confidential human source (CHS), or criminal informants (CI). It can also refer pejoratively to someone who supplies information without the consent of the involved parties. The term is commonly used in politics, industry, entertainment, and academia.
The Winter Hill Gang is a structured confederation of organized crime figures in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The gang members and leadership are predominantly of Irish descent, though some important members and associates are of Italian descent. It derives its name from the Winter Hill neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts, north of Boston. Its members have included the notorious Boston gangsters Buddy McLean, Whitey Bulger, Howie Winter, Joseph McDonald, Johnny Martorano, Patrick Nee and Stephen Flemmi. They were most influential from 1965, under the rule of McLean and Winter, to the 1979 takeover led by Bulger.
Supergrass is a British slang term for an informant who turns Queen's evidence, often in return for protection and immunity from prosecution. In the British criminal world, police informants have been called "grasses" since the late 1930s, and the "super" prefix was coined by journalists in the early 1970s to describe those who witnessed against fellow criminals in a series of high-profile mass trials at the time.
William Charles Hill was an English criminal, linked to smuggling, protection rackets and extreme violence. He was one of the foremost perpetrators of organised crime in London from the 1920s through to the 1960s. His gang managed cash robberies and, in a clever scam, defrauded London's high society of millions at the card tables of John Aspinall's Clermont Club.
A push dagger is a short-bladed dagger with a "T" handle designed to be grasped in the hand so that the blade protrudes from the front of one's fist, typically between the index and middle finger. It originates as a close-combat weapon for civilians in the early 19th century, and has also seen some use in the trench warfare of World War I.
A knife fight is a violent physical confrontation between two or more combatants in which one or more participants is armed with a knife. A knife fight is defined by the presence of a knife as a weapon and the violent intent of the combatants to kill or incapacitate each other; the participants may be completely untrained, self-taught, or trained in one or more formal or informal systems of knife fighting. Knife fights may involve the use of any type of knife, though certain knives, termed fighting knives, are purposely designed for such confrontations – the dagger being just one example.
The navaja is a traditional Spanish folding-blade fighting and utility knife.
In the United Kingdom, the word spiv is slang for a type of petty criminal who deals in illicit, typically black market, goods. The word was particularly used during the Second World War and in the post-war period when many goods were rationed due to shortages.
Paul John Ferris is a Scottish author and former organised crime figure. Ferris was an enforcer for Glasgow 'Godfather' Arthur Thompson in the early 1980s. Known for his ruthlessness and extreme violence, he rose to a prominent position in the city's criminal underworld.
A baton is a roughly cylindrical club made of wood, rubber, plastic or metal. It is carried as a compliance tool and defensive weapon by law-enforcement officers, correctional staff, security guards and military personnel.
Eighty-six or 86 is American English slang used to indicate that an item is no longer available, traditionally from a food or drinks establishment; or referring to a person or people who are not welcome in the premises. Its origins are unknown but seem to have been coined in the 1920s or 1930s.
An improvised weapon is an object that was not designed to be used as a weapon but can be put to that use. They are generally used for self-defence or if the person is otherwise unarmed. In some cases, improvised weapons are commonly used by attackers in street fights, muggings, murders, gang warfare, during riots, or even during insurgencies, usually when conventional weapons such as firearms are unavailable or inappropriate.