Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Shark.

 Shanty Songs.Sharp (Becky). 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A swindler, a pilferer; one who snaps up things like a shark, which eats almost anything, and seems to care little whether its food is alive or dead, fish, flesh, or human bodies.   1
“These thieves doe rob us with our owne good will,
And have Dame Nature’s warrant for it still;
Sometimes these sharks doe worke each other’s wrack,
The ravening belly often robs the backe.”
Taylor’s Workes, ii. 117.
   The shark flies the feather. This is a sailor’s proverb founded on observation. Though a shark is so voracious that it will swallow without distinction everything that drops from a ship into the sea, such as cordage, cloth, pitch, wood, and even knives, yet it will never touch a pilot-fish (q.v.) or a fowl, either alive or dead. It avoids sea-gulls, sea-mews, petrels, and every feathered thing. (St. Pierre: Studies, i.)   2

 Shanty Songs.Sharp (Becky). 


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