fence
Posted: 28 May 2013 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I was wondering why we use the word “fence” to mean both an enclosure and a dealer in stolen goods. My dictionary lists both meanings under the same heading, so apparently it’s not just two unrelated words that happen to be spelled and pronounced the same way. Any help would be appreciated.

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Posted: 28 May 2013 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Welcome, Dapper Dan.

That’s a good question. (As is often the case, that means a question without a good answer.) For what it’s worth, the OED records the verb first (to fence = to sell stolen property) in 1610, and the noun ("a receiver of stolen goods") not until 1699, although with thieves’ slang one can’t be too confident in the dates.

No indication of how these senses developed is provided.  I could suggest that it relates to the idea of the fence providing separation and protection for the thief and the ultimate buyer of the goods, but that is purely speculation.

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Posted: 28 May 2013 04:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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All my slang references have the same citations, even Green’s Dictionary of Slang, which is the newest. So nothing to add. Green’s makes the same speculation as Dr. Techie as to the origin.

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Posted: 29 May 2013 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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An (unnamed?) variant of diegogarcity: the mot-dièse thread talks of hashtags and American pound signs, which are often called “brädgård” in Swedish, meaning fence. The next thread discusses - fence…

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Posted: 29 May 2013 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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“brädgård.” frma, Google Translate says that this Swedish word means, ‘lumberyard.’ Given how rough these translations can be, does it perhaps mean the wooden fence encompassing a yard?  My Swedish only extends to blondes! ;—{ )

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Posted: 29 May 2013 07:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thanks very much for the information.

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