The Golden Age of Hollywood

GET WITH IT! 1920'S SLANG - WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE?



As with any era, the 1920's had time period specific slang. Here is a sampling. It sure is the berries! Have a swell time, but make sure you don't upchuck!

Apple Sauce-Flattery

Bell Polisher—A young man addicted to lingering in vestibules at 1 a.m. 

Brush Ape—Anyone from the sticks; a country Jake.

Brooksy—Classy dresser

Duck’s Quack—The best thing ever. 

Face Stretcher—Old maid who tries to look younger. .

Fire Extinguisher—A chaperone. 

Flatwheeler—Slat shy of money; takes girls to free affairs. 

Gimlet—A chronic bore.

Grubber—One who always borrows cigarettes.

Nosebaggery—Restaurant.

Potato—A young man shy of brains.

Ritzy Burg—Not classy. 

Rug Hopper—Young man who never takes a girl out. A parlor hound. 

Sharpshooter—One who spends much and dances well.

Slimp—Cheapskate or “one way guy”.

Tomato—A young woman shy of brains.

Trotzky (sic)—Old lady with a moustache and chin whiskers.

Whangdoodle—Jazz-band music.



Bee's Knees - An extraordinary person, thing, idea
Berries - is attractive or pleasing; similar to bee's knees, As in "It's the berries."
Big Cheese - The most important or influential person. Same as big shot
Bluenose - An excessively puritanical person, a prude
Bump Off - To murder
Carry a Torch - To have a crush on someone
Cat's Meow - Something splendid or stylish; similar to bee's knees; The best or greatest
Cat's Pajamas - Same as cat's meow
Cheaters - Eyeglasses
Crush - An infatuation
Dogs - feet
Drugstore Cowboy - a guy that hangs around on a street corner trying to pick up girls
Dumb Dora - a stupid female
Fall Guy - victim of a frame
Flat Tire - A dull insipid, disappointing date. Same as pill, pickle, drag, rag, oilcan
Frame - To give false evidence, to set up someone
Gams - A woman's legs
Giggle Water - An intoxicating beverage; alcohol
Gin Mill - An establishment where hard liquor is sold; bar
Hard Boiled - a tough, strong guy
Heebie-Jeebies - The jitters
Hooch - Bootleg liquor
Hoofer - Dancer
Hotsy-Totsy - Pleasing
Jalopy - Old car
Joint - A club, usually selling alcohol
Keen - Attractive or appealing
Kisser - Mouth
Lounge Lizard - a guy that is sexually active
Moll - A gangster's girl
Neck - Kissing with passion
Pinch - To arrest
Pushover - A person easily convinced or seduced
Ritzy - Elegant (from the hotel)
Scram - Ask someone to leave immediately
Sheba - A woman with sex appeal (from the movie Queen of Sheba)
Sheik - A man with sex appeal (from the Valentino movies)
Speakeasy - An illicit bar selling bootleg liquor
Spiffy - An elegant appearance
Struggle Buggy - the backseat of a car. A parent's worst nightmare
Stuck On - Having a crush on
Swanky - Ritzy
Swell - Wonderful. Also: a rich man
Take for a Ride -To drive off with someone in order to bump them off
Torpedo - A hired gun
Upchuck - To vomit when one has drunk too much
Whoopee - To have a good time

The editors of Who's Who In Filmland 1931 included a glossary of the “newest slang for 1931:

Weenies/Janes/Dames/Broads: Girls.
Classiest Mammas in town: Smartest women in town.
He's phooey/He's crackers/He's blooey: He's mad.
A dim bulb/A banana/A sap/An oil can/A sucker/A dumb-bell: A fool.
The parrot's cracker/The bunk/Boloney: Nonsense.
Okay: All right.
Raspberries: Cat-calls.
Dope/Snow/Coke: Cocaine.
A cap pistol/A cannon/A gat/A rod/ A shooting iron: A revolver.
A weisenheimer: A smart fellow.
Punk-hoofer: Bad dancer.
Peeved up: Annoyed.
Roll over: Stop talking nonsense.
The Homicide Squad: A police department dealing exclusively with murder cases.
To tie on the nose bag: To have a meal.
Ditch that rod: Put that pistol in your pocket.
Sugar daddies: Men who "protect" girls.
Shoot: Go on with what you have to say.
Automat: A cheap restaurant where the clients help themselves to dishes from a kind of slot machine.
Right through the old pump: Right through the heart.
Gimme a drag on that weed: Give me a puff at that cigarette.

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Comment by kareng on September 5, 2013 at 4:51am

Still say the bee's knees.  Have heard 23 skidoo, love that ... what's that "fixin' me up with a flat tyre"  lol.  Eddie ain't no flat tyre!!

Comment by Catherine on June 23, 2013 at 8:04pm

Lol, sure is, Phillip, make sure any wet rags you know get a copy :-o

Comment by Philip C Binstead on June 23, 2013 at 3:19pm

Love this list, we still say The Bees Knees today, I have to print this list it's a must have :-).

Comment by diane on June 18, 2013 at 12:41am

I like "punk hoofer" as well

Comment by diane on June 18, 2013 at 12:40am

I've heard "hotsy totsy" in a Lee Morse  as in "he's my little hotsy totsy"

- often wondered what it meant, now I know!!

Comment by Christopher on November 18, 2008 at 3:59pm
I always thought a Drugstore Cowboy was some city slicker cowboy wannabe....I like that one "Flat tire"......"Saaaayy..whats the idea a fixin' me up with a Flat tire??"..at least yours had teeth!
Yours had teeth too... =:oB
Comment by Abdullah aka Chuck on November 18, 2008 at 3:08pm
In the pro wrestling world I still occasionally work, a bad guy is called a "heel" and a good guy is a "face" or a "Babyface". I am currently a "babyface commisioner' but for most of my 15 year career, I was a "heel". I was voted "Most Hated" by the fans of my old federation for 3 years running. I now work for other promoters, no longer an owner, and have turned "face". My old buddies are appalled, and desperately want me to turn"heel" again, as I can get a crowd reaction or "heat" with just a look. a laugh. or a snide remark. I am currently" feuding" with our women's "Heel" champion, who insists on wrestling a man, as the women she wrestles are not in her league. She slapped me in the face on the last show. "Babyfaces" have to take it tough a lot!..lol
Comment by Abdullah aka Chuck on November 18, 2008 at 11:53am
Karin, I never knew what i was until this very moment! I'm a drugstore cowboy!!1 I'm sure the Flatiron building would be where I'd spend the majority of my time! It all makes sense now! Thanks for clearing that up! I've been lost all these years , wondering what could I posibly be? I'm a drugstore cowboy!!! :)
Comment by Abdullah aka Chuck on November 18, 2008 at 11:46am
"And How!" always reminds me of the Three Stooges as indians...Moe would say HOW ...Larry would saw HOW...then Curly would say AND HOW!
Comment by Abdullah aka Chuck on November 18, 2008 at 11:22am
lol Tori...too funny!

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