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One who obtains goods on credit by false pretences, and sells them for ready money at any price, in order to make up a purse. This name is derived from the German word schwindlin, to totter, to be ready to fall ; these arts being generally practised by persons on the totter, or just ready to break. The term swindler has since been used to signify cheats of every kind.

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.