They Say Em' From the Golden Era - Slang & Memorable Phrases

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Chamorro, Mar 17, 2004.

  1. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    1920's to 30's Slang Glossary

    All in: Physically exhausted

    All wet: Foolish or gravely mistaken

    Alley apple: Half a paving brick. Carried in the coat pocket as a weapon. Came into use during the big union strikes during the 30's.

    Altar: Toilet, toilet bowl

    Artist: A skilled criminal

    Baby/Baby Vamp: A popular and/or attractive girl

    Baked Wind: Idle talk

    Balloon: bedding, especially if carried in a roll; applied to transients

    Ballon Juice: Idle or exaggerated talk

    Bat: Prostitute

    Bell Polisher: A boy who lingers in the lobby after dropping off a date

    Bent: Criminal

    Berries: Anything very good

    Big Guy: God or an important official or criminal

    Big Man: The Pinkerton Detective Agency or one of its men

    Bird: An aviator or a popular girl

    Biscuit: A flapper willing to engage in "petting"

    Black Bottle: Poison

    Blow Out: A big meal

    Blurb: The advertising matter on a book jacket

    Board Stiff: A sandwich board man

    Bonehead: A fool

    Boob: An Idiot

    Brace (as in to brace): Ask someone for money

    Break one's guts: Breaking the spirit of a prisoner by flogging

    Breeze: Trivial or useless talk or information

    Breezer: A convertible automobile

    Broker: A drug dealer

    Brush Ape: A country youth

    Buck: A Catholic priest

    Bull: A policeman, a cop

    Bull (as in to bull): Lie or talk big

    Bull Buster: One who assaults a cop

    Bull Simple: Fearful of cops

    Bull Wool: Cheap

    Bundle (as in to Bundle): To steal

    Bunk: Synthetic liquor or false goods

    Bunk (as in to bunk): To conceal or fool

    Burn up (as in to burn up): To defraud

    Buzzer: A policeman's badge

    Cackler: Perjorative name for a clerk

    Cake Eater: A ladies' man

    Candy Leg: A rich and popular young man

    Cannon: A gun

    More to come ...
  2. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    1920's to 30's Slang Glossary Part:2

    Can Opener A cheap car

    Carry a flag: To travel incognito, under an assumed name

    Carry the banner: To wander the streets all night

    Cellar smeller: A a person who enjoys drink, a drunkard

    Charge: A narcotic injection

    Chair warmer: A wallflower or a man who does not pay his own way

    Cheaters: Spectacles, eyeglasses

    Cheese it!: Look out! Run!

    Chew the fat: To talk

    Choice bit of Calico: A lovely or popular girl

    Choker: Cheese

    Chopper: A machine gun or the shooter of

    Chronic (as in to chronic): To investigate

    Cinder Bull: A railroad detective

    Circus Bees: Body lice

    Claw (as in to claw): To arrest

    Clean (as in to clean): To rob

    Clem: A fight or a riot

    Clothesline: A person who collects and spreads gossip about his or her neighbors or the gossip itself

    Clown: A country man

    Copacetic: Good or pleasant, trouble free

    Crack down: Work hard

    Crap: Anything foolish or worthless

    Crasher: One who attends parties uninvited

    Crawler: A legless beggar

    Crumb: An unpopular girl

    Crush (as in to crush): To escape from prison

    Curtains: Death

    Curve: A beautiful woman

    Cushions: Luxury

    Dame: A woman

    Damp bourbon poultice: A drink

    Damsel: A girl

    Dewdropper: A malingerer

    Dim Box: A taxicab

    Dirt: Money or gossip

    Doll: A girl

    Drive: A drug induced thrill

    Dude: An undergraduate

    Dummy Up: To become silent

    Dyna: Liquor

    Earwigging: Eavesdropping

    Eats: Food

    Even MORE to come ...
  3. Michaelson

    Michaelson One Too Many

    Let me stick one in while you're close to the 'A's.

    Alley apple: half a paving brick. Carried in the coat pocket as a weapon. Came into use during the big union strikes during the 30's.
  4. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    Good one! we shall add it to the lexicon.
  5. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    1920's to 30's Slang Glossary Part:3

    Egg: A guy who lets a girl pay for his dance hall ticket

    Fake Aloo: A hard luck story

    Fall Guy: A scapegoat

    Feds: Federal law enforcement officers

    Fifty cards in the deck: Insane

    Fin: A five dollar bill. A five year sentence

    Finger (as in to finger): To identify to the police

    Fire alarm: A divorcee

    Fire Bugs: Electric lights

    Fireworks: Gunplay

    Flat: Broke or penniless

    Flat tire: A deflated scheme

    Flesh and Blood Angel: A popular girl

    Flickers: Motion pictures

    Flirt/Floosey: A girl

    Fly Ball: A detective

    Frame: To falsely accuse or concoct evidence against an innocent man

    Fresh Bull: An enthusiastically honest policeman

    Fresh Cat: An inexperienced transient

    Fresh Cow: A person with a recently acquired venereal disease

    Frisk: To touch a person

    Frolic: Lawless activity or entertainment

    Fuzz: A detective, the police

    Gall: Courage

    Gee: A glass of liquor

    Gee Whiz: All purpose, meaningless interjection

    George (as in to George): To be aware

    Get one's hooks on: To obtain or seize

    Get the Gate: To be discharged

    Gigglewater: Booze

    Glom: To seize or snatch

    Go over big: To succeed

    Gold Brick: To defraud

    Gold Dust: Cocaine

    Gold Mine: A young man who spends freely

    Goof: A sweetheart or a boob

    Gravy: Profit

    Gun Mob : A gang of crooks

    Habit: A drug habit

    Hack: A nightwatchman or policeman

    Half baked: Semi educated

    Have the Impuck: To be mildly sick

    Heat: Trouble

    Yet even more to come ...
  6. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    1920's to 30's Slang Glossary Part:4

    Heater: A revolver or any type of gun

    Heifer Den: A brothel, whorehouse

    Hep: Well informed

    High Hat: False air of superiority. To "give someone the high hat" was to snub them

    Hobo Short Line: Suicide in front of a train

    Hot: Wanted by the police

    Hot Tongue: Sexually aroused woman

    Hurry Buggy: A police van

    Jack: Money

    Jack full of money: A wealthy man who spends freely

    Jake: Good, fine, as hoped for

    Jazz Hound: Dance fiend

    Jolt: A potent drink

    Kayoe: To achieve great success

    Kick it apart: To elaborate or fully explain a plan

    Kick the gong around: To indulge in illegal drug use

    Kiss the Eye Teeth: To hit in the mouth

    Knock over: To raid or arrest

    Know your onions: To be hep, wise or sophisticated. To know what's what

    Leary: Damaged goods

    Legger: A bootlegger

    Lemon: An undesireable person

    Lifeboat: Reprieve

    Long Rod: A rifle

    Lying dead: In hiding or retirement

    Mess: A dull person

    Michael: Hip flask

    Moll Buzzer: A pickpocket who targets women

    Mooch: A beggar

    Murk: Coffee

    Nines: Absolute limit

    Number (as in get one's): To understand one's motives

    Offay: A person who is hep, with it, in the know (from the French: "Au Fait")

    Off one's trolley: Badly mistaken, crazy

    Old Ned: The Devil

    Old Stuff: Out of date

    On: Mentally sharp

    Once over: A penetrating glance

    On the spot: Marked for death

    Out on parole: Divorced

    Parlor Leech: A young man who doesn't take his date out

    Pathfinder: Police spy

    Percentage Bull: A policeman who accepts bribes to look the other way

    STILL more to come ...
  7. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    FYI submissions to The Lexicon are gladly welcomed ...
  8. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    1920's to 30's Slang Glossary Part:5

    Pipe: A simple task

    Pistol Route: Death by gunshot

    Plute: A wealthy man

    Pork: A corpse

    Puff: An explosive or explosion

    Pussyfoot: A Prohibitionist

    Put the skids under: To get rid of

    Razz, Get the: To be made fun of

    Reach (as in to reach): To bribe

    Reader: An arrest warrant

    Ripley, That's one for: In reference to "Believe It or Not" cartoonist Robert Ripley, could be said of anything strange or bizarre

    Ritzy: Stylish

    Roar (as in to roar): To complain

    Rubber Sock: A delicate person

    Sag (as in to sag): To beat, as with a club

    Scram: To run away

    Scratch: Money

    Shackles: Soup

    Shag: An organized pursuit

    Shed: An enclosed automobile

    Sheet and Scratch Man: A high class forger

    Shellacked: Drunk

    Shroud: Suit of clothes

    Siberia: A harsh prison, originally said of Clinton Prison, New York

    Simp Trap: Employer-owned store

    Snow: Cocaine or heroin

    Soft Heel: A detective

    Sour: Anything unwanted or worthless

    Spear (as in to spear): To arrest

    Tamp up: To assault

    Tip up: To inform the police

    Torpedo: A thug

    Vic: A convict

    Wind Tormentors: Whiskers

    Wipe the clock: To stop working quickly

    Wire: A pickpocket

    Woody: Insane

    Works, The: An unpleasantly inflicted death

    Yegg: A thief

    Th-th-th-that's all folks ...
  9. Brad Bowers

    Brad Bowers I'll Lock Up

    Thank you, Chamorro! These are great. Where did you find such a list?

    A couple of variations on Cinder Bull: railroad detectives were also called Yard Bulls and Cinder Dicks.

    This here Cellar smeller hasn't decided if I'm going to have a Damp bourbon poultice, a Dyna, a Gee, or Gigglewater. Heck, maybe I'll have one of each!:D As long as I'm not shellacked when the doll that married me gets home, or I might wind up out on parole!

    Serioulsly, I'm enjoying this thread.

    Brad Bowers
  10. MK

    MK Founder Staff Member Bartender

    I like the avatar Brad. What lid is that?
  11. farnham54

    farnham54 A-List Customer

    Guelph, Ontario, Canada
    I certainly know my Onions now, Chammarro!

    thanks, very enjoyable.


  12. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    1940's Slang Glossary Part:1

    Alligator: Swing fans or dancers

    Cast an eyeball : Look around

    Darby: Something good

    Dead hoofer: A poor dancer

    Dig: Like

    Dillinger : Fantastic

    Drag a hoof: To dance

    Drape: Clothes, suit

    Duchess: A girl

    Fade: To leave

    Fifth Avenue: High class

    Frolic: Dance

    Frolic pad: A night club

    Gammin': Strutting, showing off

    Ginned up: Dressed up

    Got your boots on: To understand what's happening

    Ground Grippers: Shoes

    Have a ball: To have a good time

    Hep Cats: Swing music lovers, dancers (male)

    Hep Kittens: Swing music lovers, dancers (female)

    Hincty : Snobby

    Hopper: Lindy Hop dancer

    Hoof: Dance

    In the groove: Very good

    Jump: Swing dance

    Kicks: Shoes

    Niftic: Good, sharp

    Off-time jive: Bad manners, incorrect

    Pulleys: Suspenders, braces

    Rug Cutters: Dancers

    Scene: Situation

    Smooth: Good, agreeable

    Stompers: Shoes

    Striders : Trousers, pants

    Threads: Clothes

    Togged to the bricks: Wearing one's best clothes

    Next ... some hard-boiled slang ...
  13. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

  14. Brad Bowers

    Brad Bowers I'll Lock Up

    Thanks, MK.

    That's my new Keppler Bogie. Here's a link to a better shot:
    New suit and hat

    And now back to Chamorro's great thread. Keep 'em coming!

    Brad Bowers
  15. Pyroxene

    Pyroxene One of the Regulars

    Central Texas
    Neat find, Chamorro. Thanks.
  16. Michaelson

    Michaelson One Too Many

    Another one for you, Paul. (heard this one on a 1947 Bela Legosi movie last night).....'stiff wagon'. refers to a hearse. Regards. Michaelson
    p.s. The movie title was 'The Corpse Vanished', a forgetable plot, but a decent period set piece, with a lot of on location shots rather than cardboard wall movie sets.
  17. Angelicious

    Angelicious One of the Regulars

    Rainy ol' New Zealand
    Doolally - meaning "crazy". My mother still uses that one... :)

    This is apparently how it originated, in about 1944 in India:

    I found it when I was hunting out info on Dubbin for MudInYerEye... :)
  18. macawber

    macawber Familiar Face

    Canberra Australia
    Doolally tap

    I recognised Doolally immediately as you hear it often in prose wriiten by Rudyard Kipling. Here is another history of the word;

    The Transit Camp at Deolali, commonly referred to as “Doolally� by those unable to manage the Urdu pronunciation. “Doolally Tap� was the term given lightheartedly to anyone in the British Army showing signs of mental wear and tear. This phrase had originated at Deolali in the 19th century. Soldiers who had served their time with their Regiments in India, very often after years away from home, were sent to Deolali to await the next available troopship home. The wait could be a long boring one. The Hindustani word for fever is tap, hence the phrase “Doolally Tap�. Not a lot had changed over the years.
  19. The Wolf

    The Wolf Call Me a Cab

    Santa Rosa, Calif
    Even though people didn't do drugs until the 1960s <facetious smiley face> there was a lot of slang for them in the golden age.
    "kicking the gong" - doing heroin
    "reefer" - a marijuana cigarette
    "viper" - a reefer smoker
    "dope" - drugs

    Don't touch the stuff myself,
    The Wolf
  20. Angelicious

    Angelicious One of the Regulars

    Rainy ol' New Zealand
    I've also heard about marijuana referred to as "jive", and of course it was called "hashish" way back.

    I don't know about the US, but I hear cocaine was THE drug of choice in the UK in the 20s/30s.

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