59 More Slang Phrases From The 1920s We Should Start Using Again

I learned a couple things from the response to my article on slang phrases from the 1920s. Number first: The Roaring Twenties really did have the coolest vernacular ever. However, I also found out that the internet loves the 1920s as much as I do  — except for the overt racism, ban on alcohol and regressive gender politics, of course.

In terms of vocab, the 20s got all of us beat. For all you 20s junkies, here are 59 more great slang phrases from the decade that keeps on giving. Let’s bring this shit back.

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1. Absent Treatment: dancing with a shy person, inexperienced dancer or awkward partner.

2. Air Tight: extremely desirable or attractive. (Note: A “sheik” is an attractive male.)

3. Ameche: a phone. (Also use for telephone: “blower.”)

4. Baby Vamp: a very popular young woman or an attractive girl. (Note: “Vamp” on its own refers to a flirt.)

5. “Banana oil!”: “That’s doubtful!”

Seattle Municipal Archives
Seattle Municipal Archives

6. Bangtail – a race horse.

7. Barneymugging: sexual intercourse.

8. Beat Session: a gossip session between two males, consisting of idle chatter.

9. Bindle Punk: a nomad or someone prone to wandering, like laborers, lumberjacks, construction workers or Jack Kerouac types.

10. Blind Pig: a speakeasy or other establishment where illicit alcohol was served.


11. Blue Serge: a real sweetheart.

12. Bluenose: someone who is prudish, puritanical or morally uptight.

13. Bronx Cheer: the sound of raspberries you make to indicate disapproval.

14. Bug-Eyed Betty: used to refer to an undesirable, ugly woman.

15. Bunny: someone who seems lost, but endearingly so.


16. Burning with a Blue Flame: drunk. (Also used for drunk: “blotto,” “boiled as an owl,” “half-shot,” “half-screwed,” “lit up like the commonwealth,” “loaded to the muzzle,” “over the bay,” “pie-eyed,” “polluted.”)

17. “Cash or Check?”: “Will you kiss me now or do we wait until later?” Note: “Check” on its own means to take a raincheck on kissing or save the kiss for another time.

18. Cast a Kitten: to throw a temper tantrum. (Also use for “temper tantrum”: “ing bing.”)

19. Cellar Smeller: a guy who only comes around when there’s free booze.

20. Coffin Varnish: homemade liquor.


21. Creep Joint: a brothel.

22. Dead Hoofer: a terrible dancer, someone with two left feet.

23. Dead Soldier: an empty container of alcohol. Example: After draining your beer, you might proclaim that soldier dead.

24. Declaration of Independence: a divorce. (Also use: “dropping the pilot.”)

25. “Di Mi!”: “My goodness!” or “Holy shit!”

Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M

26. Eel’s Hips: a phrase similar to “The Cat’s Meow” or “The Monkey’s Eyebrows.”

27. Electric Cure: electrocution or electric shock.

28. Face Stretcher: an older lady still trying to look young (and usually failing).

29. Fakeloo Artist: a con man.

30. Fire Extinguisher: the escort or chaperone for a social event. (Also use for “chaperone”: an “alarm clock.”)


31. Flat Tire: used to indicate that one’s date did not meet expectations. Example: “She seemed so interesting, but she was nothing but a flat tire!”

32. Forty-Niner: a male gold digger.

33. Frolic Pad: a dance club or nightclub (Note: If it’s a really swanky place with rich patrons, that’s called a “clip joint.”)

34. Ground Grippers: shoes or sneakers. (Also use: “kicks,” “stompers.”)

35. Hen Coop: a beauty salon.


36. Hit on All Sixes: to perform at full-capacity or nail it one-hundred percent.

37. Hope Chest: your trusty pack of cigarettes.

38. Indian Hop: a code name for reefer.

39. Insured: to be engaged to marry.

40. “Ish Kabibble!”: “Who cares?”, “No worries!”


41. Jack: another name for money. (Other words for money: “rubes,” “kale,” “mazuma.”)

42. Johnson Brother: a criminal.

43. Kick the Gong Around: to smoke opium.

44. Knee-Duster: a skirt.

45. Lalapazaza: a good sport.

46. Lens Louise: the person who steamrolls the conversation.

47. Meat Wagon: an ambulance.

48. Middle Aisle: to get married. Example: “I’m going down the middle aisle.”

49. Mustard Plaster: someone who isn’t wanted but won’t leave.

50. “Nerts!”: “That’s awesome!”


51. Ofay: term used by black folks to refer to white people.

52. Off-Time Jive: To be inappropriate, impolite; to have bad manners.

53. Quiff: a sexually active female.

54. Rock of Ages: a middle-aged woman, usually over 30.

55. Screaming Meemies: the shakes.

56. Streeted: to be tossed out of a party.

57. Ten Cent Box: a cab. (Note: a “dim box jaunt” means a ride in a taxi.)

58. Togged to the Bricks: dressed to the nines.

59. Torpedo: a thug or hitman. TC mark

Want more fascinating information? Check out this incredible collection on Amazon here.



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