1920s Slang Terms and Definitions

The Roaring 20’s gave birth to a number of new phrases – some of which are distinct to that era, and some of which are still used today. Here’s a large list of 1920’s slang. Pick a few words and phrases to use at your 1920’s-themed murder mystery party!

And don’t forget to check out A Flapper Murder at the 1920’s Speakeasy Theme Murder Mystery Party Game!

A

Ab-so-lute-ly: Affirmative – Definitely

All wet: Wrong

And How!: I strongly agree!

Ankle: To walk or to leave

Applesauce: A mild curse, like “darn” (also, “Horsefeathers!”)

Attaboy!: Well done! (also, Attagirl!)

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B

Baby: Sweetheart, honey, lover

Baby Brand: Heavily built man

Baby Vamp: A pretty or popular female, student.

Balled up: Messed up, a mistake

Baloney: Nonsense!

Bearcat: A hot-blooded, vivacious or fiery girl

Beat it: Get lost (also, Scram)

Beat One’s Gums: Idle talk, someone “beats one’s gums” when they’re all talk, no action

Bee’s Knee’s: It’s the best (also, The Cat’s Pyjamas, Elephant’s Eyebrows, gnat’s whistle, eel’s hips, etc.)

Beef: A problem, as in “What’s your beef?”

Beeswax: Business, as in “Mind your own beeswax.”

Bell Bottom: A sailor

Bent: Drunk

Berries: Perfect or Money

Bible Belt: Area in the South and Midwest where Fundamentalism flourishes

Big Shot/Big Cheese: Important person

Big Six: A Strong Man

Bimbo: A Tough Guy

Bird: General term for a man or woman

Blind Date: A date with someone you’ve never met

Blotto: Drunk

Blow: (1) a wild party (2) to leave (as in, “Let’s make like the wind and blow)

Bluenose: An excessively puritanical person, a prude

Bootleg: Illeagal liquor

Breezer: A topless automobile

Bronx Cheer: A loud spluttering noise made with the lips, used to indicate disapproval.

Bubs: Breasts

Bug-Eyed Betty: An unattractive girl

Bull: (1) a law-enforcement official (2) nonesense (3) to talk idly, to exaggerate

Bull Session: A male talkfest, gossip, stories of sexual exploits

Bump Off: to kill

Bum’s Rush: Thrown out of an establishment

Bunny: A term of endearment applied to the lost, disoriented. Often coupled with “poor little.”

Bushwa: A euphemism for “bullshit”

Butt me: Give me a smoke

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C

Caper: A criminal act or robbery

Carry a Torch: To have a crush on someone

Cash: A kiss

Cash or Check?: Do you kiss now or later?

Cat’s Meow: Something splendid or stylish; similar to bee’s knees

Cat’s Pajamas: Same as cat’s meow

Chassis: The female body

Cheaters: Eyeglasses

Check: Kiss me later

Ciggy: Cigarette

Clam: One dollar

Copacetic: Wonderful, fine, all right (as in, “Everything is copacetic.”)

Crush: An infatuation

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D

Daddy: A young woman’s wealthy boyfriend or lover (Sugar Daddy)

Daddy-O: A term of address, as in “Hey there, Daddy-O!”

Dame: A female

Dapper: A Flapper’s dad

Darb: A great person or thing

Dead Soldier: an empty beer bottle

Deb: A debutant

Dewdropper: A young man who sleeps all day and doesn’t have a job

Dick: A private investigator

Dogs: Feet

Doll: An attractive woman

Dolled up: Dressed up

Don’t know from nothing: Doesn’t have any information

Don’t take any wooden dimes: Don’t do anything stupid

Dope: Drugs

Double-Cross: To cheat, stab in the back

Dough: Money

Drugstore Cowboy: A guy that hangs around on a street corner trying to pick up girls

Dry up: Shut up, get lost

Ducky: Very good

Dumb Dora: A dumb woman

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E

Earful: Enough

Edge: A buzz. i.e. “I’ve got an edge.”

Egg: A person who lives the big life

Ethel: An effeminate man

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F

Fag: A smoke

Fall Guy: Victim of a frame

Fella: A man

Fire Extinguisher: A Chaperone

Fish: A first timer in prison

Flat Tire: A bore

Flivver: a Model T; after 1928, also any broken down automobile.

Fly Boy: A glamorous term for an aviator

Four-Flusher: A person who feigns wealth while mooching off others

Frame: To give false evidence , to set up someone

Fried: Drunk

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G

Gams: Legs

Gay: Happy or lively

Get-up: An outfit

Get a Wiggle On: Get a move on, get going

Get in a Lather: Get worked up, angry

Giggle Water: Booze

Gin Mill: A seller of hard liquor; a speakeasy

Glad Rags: “Going out on the town” clothes

Gold-Digger: A woman who pursues men for their money

Goods, the: (1) the right material, or a person who has it (2) the truth, as in, “Get the goods” on someone

Goof: (1) a stupid or bumbling person, (2) a boyfriend, flapper

Goofy: In love

Grummy: Depressed

Grungy: Envious

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H

Hair of the dog: A shot of booze, especially the day after a booze-up

Half Seas Over: Drunk, also “half under”

Handcuff: An engagement ring or wedding band

Hard-boiled: Tough or a tough guy

Hayburner: (1) a gas guzzling automobile (2) a losing horse

Heavy Sugar: A lot of money

Heebie-Jeebies: “The shakes,” named after a hit song

High Hat: A snob or to snub someone

Hip to the Jive: Trendy

Hit on all Sixes: To perform 100 per cent; as “hitting on all six cyclinders”

Hooch: Bootleg liquor

Hood: Hoodlum

Hooey: Nonsense

Hoofer: Dancer

Hop: (1) opiate or marijuana (2) a teen party

Hopped Up: Under the influence of drugs

Horsefeathers: An unoffensive expletive, like “darn”

Hot Dawg!: Great!

Hotsy – Totsy: Pleasing

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I

“I have to go see a man about a dog”: “I’ve got to leave now,” often meaning to go buy whiskey

Iron: A motorcycle

It: Sex appeal

Insured: Engaged

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J

Jack: Money

Jake: Great, ie. “Everything’s Jake.”

Jalopy: A dumpy old automobil

Jane: A female

Java: Coffee

Joe: Coffee

Joe Brooks: A well dressed man

John: A toilet

Joint: Establishment

Juice Joint: A speakeasy

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K

Kale: Money

Keen: Appealing

Killjoy: A solemn person

Kisser: Mouth

Knock Up: To make a woman pregnant

Know One’s Onions: To know one’s business or what one is talking about

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L

Left holding the bag: To be blamed for something

Let George Do It: A work evading phrase

Level with Me: Be honest

Line: A false story, as in “to feed one a line.”

Live Wire: A lively person

Lollygagger: (1) a young man who enjoys making out (2) an idle person

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M

Mazuma: Money

Middle Aisle: To marry

Milquetoast: A timid person

Mind your Potatoes: Mind your own business

Moonshine: Homemade whiskey

Moll: A gangster’s girl

Mrs. Grundy: A priggish or extremely tight-laced person

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N

Neck: Kissing with passion

Nifty: Excellent, great

Nookie: Sex

Not so good!: I personally disapprove

“Now you’re on the trolley!”: Now you’ve got it, now you’re right

Nobody Home: Describes some one who is dumb

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O

Oh yeah!: I doubt it!

Old boy: A male term of address, used with other males

On a Toot: A drinking binge

On the Lam: Fleeing from authorities

On the level: Legitimate, honest

On the up and up: On the level

Orchid: An expensive item

Ossified: Drunk

Owl: A person who’s out late, a night owl

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P

Pet: Making out

Petting Pantry: Movie theater

Piffle: Baloney

Piker: A coward

Pill: (1) A teacher (2) an unlikable person

Pinch: To arrest or to steal

Pinko: A liberal

Pipe down: Stop talking

Pos-i-lute-ly: Affirmative, also “pos-i-tive-ly”

Punch the Bag: Small Talk

Pushover: A person easily persuaded

Putting on the Ritz: After the Ritz Hotel in Paris; doing something in high style

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Q

Quiff: A slut

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R

Rag-a-muffin: A dirty or disheveled individual

Ratz: How disappointing or “darn!”

Razz: To make fun of

Real McCoy: The genuine article

Reuben: A country bumpkin

Ritzy: Elegant

Rub: A dance party

Rubes: Money or dollars

Rummy: A drunken bum

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S

Sap: A fool, an idiot

Says You: Disbelief

Scram: Ask someone to leave immediately

Sheba: One’s girlfriend

Sheik: One’s boyfriend

Shiv: A knife

Simolean: A dollar

Sinker: A doughnut

Sitting pretty: In a prime position

Skirt: A female

Smarty: A flapper

Smoke-Eater: A smoker

So’s Your Old Man: A reply of irritation, like “Yo Mama” in the 90’s

Speakeasy: A bar selling illegal liquor

Spiffy: An elegant appearance

Spill: To talk

Spifflicated: Drunk

Spoon: To neck, or at least talk of love

Stilts: Legs

Struggle Buggy: The backseat of a car

Stuck On: Having a crush on

Sugar Daddy: Older boyfriend who showers girlfriend with gifts in exchange for sex

Swanky: (1) good (2) elegant

Swell: (1) good (2) high class

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T

Take Someone for a Ride: To take someone to a deserted location and murder them

Tasty: Appealing

Tell it to Sweeney: Tell it to someone who is gullable

Tight: Attractive

Tin Pan Alley: The music industry in New York, located between 48th and 52nd street

Tomato: A “ripe” female

Torpedo: A hired thug or hitman

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U

Upchuck: To vomit, yak, spew, especially after consuming too much giggle juice

Upstage: Snobby

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V

Vamp: (1) An aggressive flirt (2) to seduce

Voot: Money

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W

Wet Blanket: A killjoy

What’s Eating You?: What’s wrong?

Whoopee: Wild fun

Woof! Woof!: Ridicule

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Y

You slay me!: That’s funny!

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Z

Zozzled: Drunk

2016-11-03T01:58:45+00:00