The Incomplete Dictionary of Vintage Slang

by - January 15, 2016

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

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.
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. ;)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Quenchers = Cold Drinks

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

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

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

Unmentionables = Undergarments
Up for grabs = Anything goes

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


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


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