Then there's another thing. I had hoped you might have peddled that opium through the islands, which is safer and more profitable. But with this three-month limit, you must make tracks for Honolulu straight, and communicate by steamer. I'll try to put up something for you there; I'll have a man spoken to who's posted on that line of biz. Keep a bright lookout for him as soon's you make the islands; for it's on the cards he might pick you up at sea in a whaleboat or a steam-launch, and bring the dollars right on board.”

From The Wrecker by R. L. Stevenson and L. Osbourne, chapter X, published 1892 https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Wrecker_(Stevenson)/Chapter_10

What do you take "to put up something for you" to mean, please? Put up has many meanings and I don't know which is the right one there. I much appreciate your help.

  • 4
    It probably means “to make arrangements for you,” finding lodging, forewarning accomplices, etc. I, a native speaker of American English, don’t recognize this usage, but it may be similar to “to put up” meaning “to stock, as produce canned at harvest time for consumption during the winter.” Sep 29, 2023 at 15:27
  • 1
    Merriam-Webster gives to arrange (a plot, a scheme, etc.) with others. I can't find any British definitions that match this usage. (Lloyd Osbourne was American-born.) Sep 29, 2023 at 16:36
  • I think it means "to suggest a way of doing something there".
    – Sam
    Sep 29, 2023 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


This usage is archaic. It's not clear that this is exactly how it was meant, but it's probably (given the subject and context) the closest and most likely: OED lists sense 10 for "put up" as 19th century "Criminals' slang":

  1. 1829– transitive. Originally Criminals' slang. To collaborate or conspire with others to perpetrate (a robbery, deception, etc.); to plan in advance, prearrange, preconcert. Esp. in to put up a job. Cf. earlier put-up adj. 1. Now rare.

Example (from 1829):

Although nothing transpired to warrant her further detention, she is still suspected of having ‘put up’ the robbery. -- Times 23 September 3/4


  • @ dkamins - Thank you very much. I think there is a typo in your reference. The source reads "1829 Although nothing transpired to warrant her further detention, she is still suspected of having ‘put up’ the robbery. Times 23 September 3/4Citation details for Times" - Mind the specification of the year 1829. It seems to be 1829, Times, 23 September (1829), 3/4; however, I don't know what is meant by 3/4
    – philphil
    Oct 2, 2023 at 16:31
  • @philphil I did copy the citation directly from the OED link, so I can't fully attest to its validity, but the "3/4" probably refers to the location of the article within the newspaper, as in page 3, column 4. See if you can find a copy and check!
    – dkamins
    Oct 2, 2023 at 22:41

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