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1920s Slang Compared to 2020s Slang

March 31, 2021

by Connie

I was curious about some of the slang we use today and what we used 100 years ago. I was surprised how many phrases have lasted all these years. I’ve listed a few examples, but you need to check the link. The list is fascinating.

Babe: Woman Baby: A person, can be said to either a man or a woman Hack: Taxi

Baloney: Nonsense, something not to be believed Beef: Problem Dogs: Feet

Behind the eight ball: In a difficult position, in a tight spot. Big house: Jail

Bracelets: Handcuffs. Broad: Woman. Java: Coffee Butts: Cigarettes

Bull session: An informal group chat or discussion Punk: Hood, jerk Chick: Woman

Chiv: Knife, a stabbing or cutting weapon; Shiv: Knife Tail: Shadow or follow

Con: Confidence game, swindle. Copacetic: All good, as it should be.

There were quite a few I never heard of or that never lasted long. Look to see how the meanings have changed on some of them over the past century.

Alderman: A man’s pot-belly; Ameche: Telephone; Beezer: Nose;

Be on the nut: To be broke; Bent cars: Stolen cars; Buttons: Police;

Button: Face, nose, end of jaw; Can house: Bordello; Gasper: Cigarette;

Chicago lightning: Gunfire; Chicago overcoat: Coffin;

Chin: Conversation; chinning, talking; Chin music: Punch on the jaw;

Crab: Figure out; Darb: An excellent person or thing; Flivver: A Ford automobile;

Dummerer: Someone who pretends to be deaf and/or dumb to appear a more deserving beggar;

Flaming youth: Male counterpart to a flapper; Roscoe: Gun; Puffing: Mugging;

Fog: To shoot Glaum: Steal; Gowed-up: On dope, high; Pipe: See or notice;

Gooseberry lay: Stealing clothes from a clothesline; Squirt metal: Shoot bullets;

Harlem sunset: Some sort of fatal injury caused by a knife; Yard: $100; Zotzed: Killed;

High pillow: Person at the top, in charge; Highbinders: Corrupt politician or functionary;

Orphan paper: Bad checks; Sugar: Money; Out on the roof: To drink a lot, to be drunk;

Rhino: Money; Rappers: Fakes, set-ups; Skid rogue: A bum who can’t be trusted;

Redhot: Some sort of criminal; Wrong gee: Not a good fellow; Wrong number: Not a good fellow

Soup: Nitroglycerine; Soup job: To crack a safe using nitroglycerine;

Tooting the wrong ringer: Asking the wrong person; Wooden kimono: A coffin;

Here are a few slang words that I would like to see make a come-back:

Alderman: A man’s pot-belly; Bee’s knees: An extraordinary person, thing, or idea;

Bum’s rush/to get the: To be kicked out; Cat’s meow: Something splendid or stylish;

Copacetic: All good, as it should be; Dingus: Thing; Duck soup: Easy;

Have the bees: To be rich; Heebie-jeebies: The jitters; Hinky: Suspicious;

Highbinders: Corrupt politician or functionary; Hoosegow: Jail;

Ing-bing (as in to throw an): A fit; Jingle-brained: Addled; Nicked: Stole

Lousy with: To have lots of; Palooka: Man, probably not very smart

I tend to say ‘crap’ often. ‘Holey-moley’ is one I use when I don’t believe something or had to think about what they meant. Do you have a favorite slang word or two?

Here is the link for this article so you can enjoy all 430 of them!

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Link: Feb 29, 2020

1920s Slang: 430 Words, Phrases, And Meanings That Are …

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