“So, here’s the deal,” Fred said, “I’m gonna be a’betting, so I need you to aid me.”
“Huh?” Greg responded, returning his attention to Fred.
He had been looking around the aged casino. What a grand old dame she must have been, he thought, looking past the faded chairs lining the slot machines. The drapes were a fine fabric, the rugs had once been plush and the chandeliers were fine glass. Dusty, but glittering underneath.
“Just like that old saying,” Fred repeated. “I’m gonna be abetting over at that table, and I need you to aid me. Aid and abet, you know.”
“That’s not…”Greg started to say before shaking his head. What had Pete got him into? “What do you need me to do?”
“I got my thing,” Fred said smugly. “I just need your handsome face to keep that dealer girl over there from paying attention to me while I do it.”
Greg looked over at the tall dealer with the glossy dark hair. Men must be hitting on her all the time, he thought. Still, Greg knew that girls liked him and he figured he could keep her busy, at least long enough for Fred to do his “thing.”
Well, damn, Greg thought with a dawning smile, that is aiding and abetting!!
aid and abet: to encourage and help, particularly in the case of nefarious or illegal activities. Anyone that has watched any cop show in the last twenty years (or more) knows this phrase. Cops are always threatening people with being charged with “aiding and abetting” if people don’t give up the suspects, or even sometimes, actually charging people with it. The phrase dates from the second half of the 18th century. The original meaning of abet was “to cause to bite,” but by then the word had lost that particular meaning and was more similar to the current meaning of encourage. The previous meaning had come from the practice of bear abetting, or bear baiting. Bear baiting was a popular sixteenth century entertainment where bears were tethered in “bear gardens” and trained dogs set loose to tear them apart. (I know, I know, don’t even get me started. I am sure the German “beer gardens” are far more entertaining. And I don’t like beer.)
The history of “abet” came from several countries, but does make sense of the “bear abetting” meaning: