Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 20 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CHEATING, " the fraudulently obtaining the property of another by any deceitful practice not amounting to felony, which practice is of such a nature that it directly affects, or may directly affect, the public at large" (Stephen, Digest of Criminal Law, chap. xl. ยง 367). Cheating is either a common law or statutory offence, and is punishable as a misdemeanour. An indictment for cheating at common law is of comparatively rare occurrence, and the statutory crime usually presents itself in the form of obtaining money by false pretences (q.v.). The word " cheat " is a variant of " escheat," i.e. the reversion of land to a lord of the fee through the failure of blood of the tenant. The shortened form " cheater " for " escheator " is found early in the legal sense, and chetynge appears in the Promptorium Parvulorum, c. 1440, as the equivalent of confiscatio. In the 16th century " cheat " occurs in vocabularies of thieves and other slang, and in such works as the Use of Dice-Play (1532). It is frequent in Thomas Harman's Caveat or Warening for . . . Vagabones (1567), in the sense of " thing," with a descriptive word attached, e.g. smeling chete = nose. In the tract Mihil Mumchance, his Discoverie of the Art of Cheating, doubtfully attributed to Robert Greene (1560-1592), we find that gamesters call them-selves cheaters, " borrowing the term from the lawyers." The sense development is obscure, but it would seem to be due to the extortionate or fraudulent demands made by legal " escheators."
End of Article: CHEATING

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