Behavior: A Primer of American Carnival Talk

CARNIES (or carnival workers) like to keep their distance from marks (customers, suckers and other non-carnies). One way of remaining aloof is to use an argot that is baffling to outsiders. A sampling of carnie terms:

CHILLING THE MARK. Getting rid of a customer who seems likely to take the heat and beef—become angry and complain that he has been cheated.

COOLING THE MARK OUT. Mollifying a mark who has lost heavily in a rigged game by throwing him a cop—letting him win a consolation prize.

CUTTING UP JACKPOTS. Chatting or talking informally.

DONNICKER. Toilet. Also, an undesirable location for a concession.

FIRST-OF-MAY. An outsider who...

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