Butter Rum Cartoon

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Friday, January 13, 2012

1920's SLANG

In my last post, The Mighty Mouse Fun Club, I felt it necessary to use the term "swellest."  Of course visions of the Bowery Boys and the Untouchables ran through my head when I typed it, and I reminisced about a time in which I had never lived.  I'm familiar with beatnik and hippie slang, but missed the lingo of the 1920's.  "Neat" and "cool" roll off my tongue, but "swell" sort of trips off it, and I wouldn't mind seeing "swell" come back.  Maybe all these slang terms of the early Twentieth Century would be swell to use again:

ab-so-lute-ly - affirmative
all wet - describes an erroneous idea or individual, as in, "He's all wet."
and how - I strongly agree!
applesauce - an expletive same as horsefeathers, as in "Ah applesauce!"
attaboy - well done!; also attagirl!
baby - sweetheart. Also denotes something of high value or respect.
balled up - confused, messed up
baloney - nonsense!
bank's closed - no kissing or making out, e.g., "Sorry, Mac, the bank's closed."
bearcat - a hot-blooded or fiery girl
beat it - scram or get lost
beat one's gums - idle chatter
bee's knees - an extraordinary person, thing, idea; the ultimate
beef - a complaint or to complain
beeswax - business, e.g., "None of your beeswax."
bell bottom - a sailor
berries - that which is attractive or pleasing; similar to bee's knees, as in, "It's the berries."
Bible Belt - area in the South and Midwest where Fundamentalism flourishes
big cheese - the most important or influential person; boss. Same as big shot
big six - a strong man; from auto advertising, for the new and powerful six-cylinder engines
bimbo - a tough guy
bird - general term for a man or woman, sometimes meaning "odd," e.g., "What a funny old bird."
blind date - going out with someone you do not know
bluenose - an excessively puritanical person, a prude
bootleg - illegal liquor
breezer - a convertible car
Bronx cheer - a loud spluttering noise, used to indicate disapproval. Same as raspberry
bull - (1) a policeman or law-enforcement officer including FBI, (2) nonsense, (3) to chat idly, to exaggerate
bull session - male talkfest, gossip, stories of sexual exploits
bum's rush - ejection by force from an establishment
bump off - to murder, to kill
butt me - I'll take a cigarette
butter rum cartoon - (1) something that makes little or no sense yet its profundity impresses or inspires people, (2) something profound and life-changing yet its nonsense delights people.
caper - a criminal act or robbery
carry a torch - to have a crush on someone
cash - a kiss
cash or check? - do you kiss now or later?
cat's meow - something splendid or stylish; similar to bee's knees; the best or greatest, wonderful
cat's pajamas - same as cat's meow
chassis - the female body
cheaters - eyeglasses
check - kiss me later
ciggy - cigarette
clam - a dollar
copacetic - wonderful, fine, all right
crush - an infatuation
daddy - a young woman's boyfriend or lover, especially if he's rich
dame - a female
dapper - a flapper's dad
darb - an excellent person or thing; a person with money who can be relied on to pay the check
dead soldier - an empty beer bottle
deb - a debutant
dick - a private investigator
dogs - feet
doll - an attractive woman
dolled up - dressed up
don't know from nothing - don't have any information
don't take any wooden nickels - don't do anything stupid
double-cross - to cheat, stab in the back
dough - money
drugstore cowboy - a guy that hangs around on a street corner trying to pick up girls
dry up - shut up, get lost
ducky - very good
dumb Dora - a stupid female
earful - enough
edge - intoxication, a buzz, e.g., "I've got an edge."
egg - a person who lives the big life
fall guy - victim of a frame
fire extinguisher - a chaperone
fish - (1) a college freshman, (2) a first timer in prison
flat tire - a dull witted, insipid, disappointing date. Same as pill, pickle, drag, rag, oilcan
flivver - a Model T; after 1928, could mean any old broken down car
flapper - a stylish, brash, hedonistic young woman with short skirts & shorter hair
fly boy - a glamorous term for an aviator
frame - to give false evidence , to set up someone
gams - a woman's legs
get a wiggle on - get a move on, get going
giggle water - an intoxicating beverage; alcohol
gin mill - an establishment where hard liquor is sold; bar
glad rags - "going out on the town" clothes
gold digger - a woman who associates with or marries a man for his wealth
goofy - in love
hair of the dog - a shot of alcohol
handcuff - an engagement ring
hard boiled - a tough, strong guy
hayburner - (1) a gas-guzzling car, (2) a horse one loses money on
heebie-jeebies - the jitters
high-hat - to snub
hit on all sixes - to perform 100 per cent; as "hitting on all six cylinders"
hooch - bootleg liquor
hood - hoodlum
hoofer - dancer
horsefeathers - an expletive; same usage as applesauce
hotsy-totsy - pleasing
it - sex appeal
iron - a motorcycle
jack - money
jake - OK, as in , "Everything is jake."
jalopy - old car
Jane - any female
java - coffee
jitney - a car employed as a private bus
joe - coffee
john - a toilet
joint - an establishment
juice joint - a speakeasy
joint - a club, usually selling alcohol
keen - attractive or appealing kisser
left holding the bag - (1) to be cheated out of one's fair share, (2) to be blamed for something
level with me - be honest
line - insincere flattery
live wire - a lively person
middle aisle - to marry
Mrs. Grundy - a priggish or extremely tight-laced person
moll - a gangster's girl
neck - kissing with passion
nifty - great, excellent
"Now you're on the trolley!" - Now you've got it, now you're right!
nobody home - describes someone who is dumb
on the lam - fleeing from police
on the level - legitimate, honest
on the up and up - on the level
orchid - an expensive item
ossified - a drunk person
owl - a person who's out late
palooka - (1) a below-average or average boxer, (2) a social outsider; from the comic strip character Joe Palooka
pet - same as neck, but more so
piker - (1) a cheapskate, (2) a coward
pill - (1) a teacher, (2) an unlikable person
pinch - to arrest
pipe down - stop talking
pushover - a person easily convinced or seduced
putting on the ritz - doing something in high style
rag-a-muffin - a dirty or disheveled individual
razz- to make fun of
real McCoy - the genuine article
ritzy - elegant
rubes - money or dollars
sap - a fool
says you - a reaction of disbelief
scram - ask someone to leave immediately
sheba - a woman with sex appeal
sheik - a man with sex appeal
shiv - a knife
sinker - a doughnut
speakeasy - an illicit bar selling bootleg liquor
spifflicated - drunk. The same as canned, corked, tanked, primed, scrooched, jazzed, zozzled, plastered, owled, embalmed, lit, potted, ossified, or fried to the hat
spiffy - an elegant appearance
spoon - to neck, or at least talk of love
struggle buggy - the backseat of a car
stuck on - having a crush on
swanky - ritzy
swell - wonderful
take for a ride - to drive off with someone in order to bump them off
Tin Pan Alley - the music industry in New York, located between 48th and 52nd street
tomato - a female
torpedo - a hired gun
upchuck - to vomit when one has drunk too much
wet blanket - a solemn person, a killjoy
what's eating you? - what's wrong?
whoopee - to have a good time
you slay me - that's funny

To see the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.


  1. Lol I have forgotten most o' those. You had to do some lookin or askin to get all of them. DC