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Random House

Glossary

Vixen

If you’re going to be hip to the jive like Gloria, Clara and Lorraine, you need the proper equipment. So we’ve included a guide to the Jazz Age to bring you up to speed on the slang of the era. After all, we don’t want you to be all wet (which means in the wrong).

Good, the Best: the bee’s knees, the cat’s meow or pajamas, the berries, the Real McCoy, everything’s Jake, keen, nifty, copasetic, darb, ducky, hotsy-totsy, nifty, swell, elephant’s eyebrows, gnat’s whistle, eel’s hips

Important Person: the Big Cheese

Illegal Liquor: Bootleg, Giggle Water, Hooch, busthead, coffin varnish, hooch, horse linament

Cigarette: gasper, ciggy, fag, hope chest (pack of cigarettes), pill, Butt me (I’ll take a cigarette)

Money: clam, dough, jack, rubes, kale, mazuma, ace (one dollar), Abe’s Cabe (five-dollar bill)

Good dancer: hoofer, floorflusher, Oliver Twist, smudger (close dancer)

Establishment where alcohol is sold: Speakeasy, Gin Mill, Juice Joint, Barrel House, drum

“Going out on the town” Clothes: Glad rags, spiffy, get-up

Doing something in high style: Putting on the Ritz

Woman with sex appeal: Sheba

Man with sex appeal: Shiek Having a crush: stuck on, carry a torch

Do we kiss now or later?: Cash or check? (check means kiss me later)

I’m going to buy whiskey: “I have to go see a man about a dog.”

Dull or goody-goody person: flat tire, pickle, pill, drag, rag, oilcan, wet blanket, kill joy, bluenose, Mrs. Grundy

Drunk: ossified, splifficated, canned, corked, tanked, primed, bent, blind, blotto, scrooched, jazzed, zozzled, plastered, owled, embalmed, lit, potted, half seas over, hoary-eyed, fried to the hat

Worthless, no purpose: trip for biscuits

Confused, Messed up: balled up, nobody’s home, a sap

Idle Chatter: beat one’s gums

Complaint: beef

Shut up, get lost: dry up, beat it, scram, pipe down, go chase yourself

Stupid girl: Dumb Dora

Hot-blooded girl: Bearcat

Tough guy: Bimbo

Social Outsider: Palooka

Expletives: Horesfeathers, Applesauce, bushwa

Unattractive Girl: Bug-eyed Betty, chunk of lead

Bad Dancer: heeler Murder: bump off

Chaperone: Fire Extinguisher

Engagement Ring: Handcuff

Police Officer: Bull (not to be confused with “Bull Session,” which is a male gossip-fest)

Fleeing from the police: on the lam

Arrest: pinch

Old woman trying to look young: face stretcher

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