The Incomplete Dictionary of Vintage Slang


Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people 
will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.
Buddha


Everybody's talking in words I don't understand...

What's buzzin', cousin? I've got something wacky for you today! When I was doing some research (aka: when I was procrastinating) I came across some slang from the past. As most of you will know, in my book language is one of the most mesmerizing things ever. So I couldn't let this opportunity pass by and decided to make a small collective of the words I've found. You're welcome.

Most of this slang is from the 1920s up to the 1940s. I love how particular some words/phrases are and how some of them have survived the passing of time. Although sadly not all of them (and there are some really really good ones out there). So I think it's about time to re-introduce some of these humdinger words and phrases back into society! And soon everyone will be uttering sentences like:

Although I'm a dead hoofer, I'm digging the jive.
or
Motorized freckles makes me wacky and flip my wig.

So don't be a drip and take a gander through The Incomplete Dictionary of Vintage Slang! I'm sure I won't be whistl'n your Dixie. ;)

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A
Above my pay grade = Don’t ask me
Able Grable = Girl with low morals
Ace = Top notch expert
Alligator = Swing fans or dancers
All wet = Describes an erroneous idea or individual (as in: He's all wet)
Ameche = To make a telephone call
Anchor Clanker = Sailor
Applesauce = An explative (as in: Ah applesauce!)
Armored heifer = Canned milk

B
Baby = Affection term for male or female
Baby-doll = Affectionate term for female
Bad business = It's troublesome
Bad news = It's trouble
Bathtub = motorcycle sidecar
Beat = Beyond tired
Beat me daddy eight to the bar = Exclamation of excitement or accomplishment
Be-bop = Dancing
Beef = A complaint
Bender = A drinking spree
Big Cheese = The most important or influential person, boss
Biz = Business
Black-and-white = Policeman's car
Blah = So-so
Blast = Ready set, go, shoot
Blivet = Unexplainable
Blow = While away, spend
Blow a fuse = Bad Temper
Bobbysox Brigade = Young Jitterbugs
Bonkers = Over the top, wild
Book = Arrest
Boondocks = The middle of nowhere
Brainchild = Someone’s creative idea
Bum rap = A false accusation.
Bump Off = To murder, To kill
Bunny = To chat
B.Y.T. = Bright young thing

C
Carry a Torch = To have a crush on someone
Cast an eyeball = Look around
Cat's Meow = Something splendid or stylish, the best or greatest, wonderful
Cheaters = Sunglasses
Chucklehead = Unintelligent person
Clams = Money
Clobbered = Have a crush on
Cook with gas = to do something right
Cookin’ with Helium = Dances well and fast
Christopher Columbus = Exclamation of surprise
Chrome-dome = word for a bald headed man
Crumb = Jerk, no fun
Cut a rug = Dance

D
Darb = An excellent person or thing, a person with money who can be relied on to pay the check
Dead hoofer = Poor dancer
Digging the Jive = Dance
Dish = Cute Girl
Doll dizzy = Girl crazy
Don’t go into a decline = Don’t get depressed
Dope = Information
Dopey = Not smart, nerdy
Drag a hoof = A dancer
Drape = Clothes, suit
Drip = A boring person
Ducky shincracker = A good dancer
Duds = Clothing, apparel

E
Ease up = Loosen up
Eager beaver = Enthusiastic helper, ready and likely able person
Edgy = Overly alert/anxious/nervous

F
Fade = Leave
Fall guy = Victim of a frame
Fat-head = Stupid or foolish person
Flip your wig = To lose control of yourself
Floy floy = Nonsense
Frolic = Dance
Frolic pad = Nightclub
Fuddy-Duddy = Old-fashioned person

G
Gab = Short for Gabardine fabric
Gate = short for Alligator = Jitterbug
Gas = A good time, something that was really funny
Geezer = An older person
Ginned up = Dressed up
Gobbledygook = double talk, long speech
Gone with the wind = Run off (with the money)
Goo and the moo = Pancakes, syrup and milk
Got your boots on = Understand what's happening
Grandstand = To show off
Grotty = New but useless
Ground grippers = Shoes

H
Hard boiled = A tough strong person
Have a ball = Have a good time
Hen fruit = Eggs
Hep cats = Swing music lovers, dancers (male)
Hep kittens = Swing music lovers, dancers (female)
Hi-de-ho = Hello
Hi sugar, are you rationed? = Are you going steady?
High-hat = To snub
Hotsy-totsy = Pleasing
Humdinger = Remarkable, outstanding

I
In cahoots with = Conspiring with, to agree and act together
In my book = In my opinion
In the groove = Very good
In the know = Having access to knowledge

J
Jalopy = (old) Car
Jeepers = Exclamation of alarm
Jerk = Less than desirable person
Jiffy = Quick
Jitterbug - Style of dance
Jits = Jitterbug
Jive = Swing Music

K
Keen = Attractive, appealing
Keister = Rump
Khaki wacky = Boy crazy
Kicks = Shoes
Killer Diller = The best, ultimate, good stuff
Kisser = Mouth
Knock off = To kill/To Quit
Knocked out = Asleep
Knockin it out = Dance amazingly
Kopescetic = Fine, okay
Knuckle sandwich = A punch in the mouth
Knucklehead = A stupid or foolish person

L
Lamb = Nice person
Lay an egg = Be Boring
Lay off = Leave alone, quit bothering
Let someone have it = To give the full brunt of your thoughts/to shoot someone
Lettuce = Money
Like crazy = Fast and hard/furious
Line = Exaggerated facts or lie, insincere flattery
Lulu = Something beyond the pale, or excellent, outstanding

M
Make a pass = Seducing
Meatball = A sucker
Megabucks = Wealth
Megillah = Details
Mitts = hands
Moolah = Money
Motorized freckles = Insects
Mug = Face

N
Nada - Nothing
Nice going! = Interjection of congratulations
Niftic = Good, sharp
No dice! = An interjection of rejection
No fooling = Telling the truth or utterance of surprise and re-assurances
Nuts = Crazy, insane

O
Off the cob = Corny, goofy
Off the hook = Exonerated, cleared of guilt
Off-time jive = Bad manners, incorrect
Old hat =  Out dated
Old lady = Slang for females, usually wife or mother.
On the beam = Cool, A-one
On the nose = Exactly.

P
Pass the buck = Pass responsibility for
Patsy = A scapegoat
Peanuts = Negligible
Peepers = Eyes
Pennies from heaven = Easy money
Pinch = To arrest
Pistol = Person full of themselves
Pulleys = Suspenders
Pushover = A person easily convinced or seduced

Q
Quenchers = Cold Drinks

R
Rag = Teasing
Rhubarb = Argument
Ritzy = Elegant (from the hotel)
Rub out = Murder
Rug cutter = Dancer
Run out of gas = Lack of interest
Rusty dusty = Rump

S
Sappy = Romantic
Sauced = Intoxicated
Say = Expression of Surprise
Sell out - Bribed
Sharp = Brilliant, edgy
Slack happy = Dumb and happy
Smooch = Romantic kissing
Snap your cap = Get angry
Specs = Eyeglasses
Squidy = Sailor
Stompers = Shoes
Strictly from Dixie = Corny, not cool
Striders = Trousers
Spew your guts out = To reveal everything
Spiffy = To Look the best
Spivvy = To Dress Up
Swabbie = Sailor
Swell = Great
Swing a wing = Dance Swing

T
Take a gander = To Look
Take a Powder = Get Lost, Lay of, to leave
Tap = To borrow money
The big house = Federal prison
Thingamabob = An adjective for something
Through the wringer = A difficult situation/repeated berating or questioning
Togged to the bricks = Wearing best clothes
Tough = A difficult situation
Two cents worth = Opinion

U
Unmentionables = Undergarments
Up for grabs = Anything goes

W
Wacky = Out of sorts, wild
Wad = Money
What's buzzin', cousin? = How's it going?
What's cooking? = How's it going? What's new?
What's eating you? = What's the matter?
What's up? = How is it going?
What of it? = What business is it of yours?
Wrack your brain = Examining all facts/evidence
Whistl'n (Whistling) Dixie = Wasting Time
Whoopee = Romance, having a good time
Wise guy = Obnoxious, rude, smart aleck
Wolf = Man with romantic intentions
Wow! = Expression of surprise/delight

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Which words and/or phrases do you think will definately need a revive? Spew your guts out below!

Love,
Dominique

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