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English Slang Terms and Phrases of the 1920s

Let's turn back in time and slip into the Jazz Age of the 1920s, relive the era by getting zozzled on some jag juice - it will be the bee's knees! Don't have a clue about what we're saying? This Buzzle article is a comprehensive compilation of the most popular 1920s' slang.
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English slang term of the 1920s - flapper
Bootleg
boot·leg
(noun)
alcoholic liquor unlawfully made, sold, or transported, without registration or payment of taxes.
Origin
American English slang, from the trick of concealing something (originally a flask of liquor) down the leg of a high boot.
Not for nothing were they called the Roaring Twenties, as is evident from the cool slang the people used back then. We've listed some of the very best twenties slang in this Buzzle article―it's a little amusing to read, but it can get offensive in no time. But then, such was the Jazz Era, and the societal norms bore heavily into the mannerisms and vernacular of the time. So, just sit back and enjoy.

List of American Slang Words and Phrases
A - D

Ankle
To walk
Apple sauce
Flattery/nonsense

Ameche
A phone
Air Tight
Desirable/attractive

Baby
A person (endearment)
Beef
Problem/Complaint

Bee's Knees
Extraordinary thing/person
Big Cheese
Someone important/the boss

Bug-eyed Betty
An unattractive woman
Cat's Meow
The best/finest

Chicago lightning
Gunfire
Chicago overcoat
Coffin

Clubhouse
Police station
Copper
Policeman

Daisy
Effeminate
Dish
Pretty woman

Dope fiend
Drug addict
Dope peddler
Drug dealer

Dough
Money
Drill
Shoot

Droppers
Hired killers
Dump
Roadhouse/club

Drugstore Cowboy
A guy that hangs around on a street corner trying to pick up girls

E - H

Egg
Man living a wealthy lifestyle
Edge
A buzz/high

Fall Guy
Victim of a frame-up
Flat Tire
A disappointing date

Flivver
A Ford model T
Fry
To be electrocuted

Gams
A woman's legs
Glad rags
Fancy clothes

Heebie-Jeebies
The jitters
Hotsy-Totsy
Pleasing

Hard-boiled
A tough person
Handcuff
Engagement ring

Flapper
A stylish, brash young woman with short skirts and shorter hair

I - L

Indian hop
Marijuana
Iron
Motorbike

Jack
Money
Joe
Coffee

Joint
A club
Jalopy
Old car

Kisser
Mouth
Kitten
Woman

Knock off
Kill
Knee-Duster
A skirt

Lead
Bullets
Limey
British soldier

Looker
Pretty woman
Large
A thousand dollars

M - Q

Map
Face
Marbles
Pearls

Moll
A gangster's girl
Mob
Gang

Neck
Kissing with passion
Nailed
Caught by the police

Nevada gas
Cyanide
Newshawk
Reporter

Op
Detective
Orchid
Something pricey

Palooka
Stupid man
Pinch
To arrest

Petting Party
Make-out party
Piker
Cheapskate/coward

Pooped
Killed
Pinko
Liberal

R - T

Ritzy
Elegant
Rap
Criminal charge

Reefers
Marijuana cigarettes
Real McCoy
A genuine item

Speakeasy
An illicit bar
Sheba/Sheik
Girlfriend/Boyfriend

Skirt
An attractive girl
Sap
A fool/idiot

Shylock
Loan shark
Spiffy
Elegant

Tea
Marijuana
Torpedo
Hitman

Tight
Attractive
Trouble boys
Gangsters

U - Z

Upchuck
To vomit
Upstage
Snobbish

Whoopee
To have a good time
Wet blanket
A boring person

Ya follow?
You understand?
Zozzled
drunk

Prohibition's Contribution to 1920s' Slang

As the most coveted and covertly traded item of the twenties, alcohol had quite a few names. Some of these are straightforward, while others are downright funny. Take a look:
  • Corn (Bourbon/Corn liquor)
  • Hooch
  • Giggle juice
  • Tiger milk
  • Belt
  • Busthead (Homemade liquor)
  • Coffin varnish (Bootleg liquor, often poisonous)
  • Rotgut
  • Strike-me-dead
  • White lightning
  • Giggle Water
  • Panther piss/sweat
So this was just a peek into the lingo of the smooth talkers of the twenties. Mind you, most of these words can even make their way into our vocabulary, and still not sound dated. Way to go, Roaring Twenties!
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Published: July 4, 2014
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