Words: Mooch, v. and n.

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The Independent Culture
A BUSY autumn, so now a mooch in New York and visits to the Society Library. Back in 1925, American Speech called it "a gem of a word", but to say as much now raises eyebrows, for it has connotations of gambling and drug-dealing absent from the OED, which dwells upon bunking off to pick blackberries.

It posits a derivation from the Old French for skulking, and, naturally, finds examples of the unactivity in that paean to lassitude, Three Men in a Boat. Also absent from the OED, but which surfaces in Jonathon Green's admirable Slang, is moocher's mile, a Thirties expression for that barren stretch east of Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square: more worthy of a place on street signs than the absurd "Theatreland" which nobody uses.

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