Vintage Vernacular: 1920s Jazz-Age Slang
Can we all agree that it’s time to retire the term “cougar”?
Like “shiznit” and “not!” and “damn skippy” before it, “cougar” had a phenomenal run, and now that run is over.
In search of a replacement, we came upon the Jazz Age slang term “bearcat,” used throughout the 1920’s and ‘30s to fondly describe “fiery, experienced woman.” Knowing
next to nothing about the animal, we turned to the zoological juggernaut Wikipedia, which revealed that, in addition to being absolutely vicious when cornered, the female bearcat (Arctictis Binturong) uses its tail to communicate via scent glands located on either side of the vulva.
So with that all taken care of, we wondered what other gems Jazz Age Slang had to offer…
The roaring ‘20s. Youth toppled tradition. Cities thrived, small towns vanished. Women got the right to vote, and with it the right to wear short skirts, bob their heads, and listen to jazz. The War was over and everyone started to have a gay old time.
It turns out they also started to say some really cool shit, like “Go tell it to Sweeney.” (Go tell someone dumb enough to believe that.) They flicked people off and said, “climb it, Tarzan.”
We want to flick people off and say, “climb it, Tarzan.” Here are a few others we’re slowly easing into our vernacular…
“You’re not going to have sex with me tonight.”
This is what it’s called when you and the fellas sit on a bench, watch cars pass by and discuss who could beat who in a drag race.
Pull a Daniel Boone
Vomit. Though your days playing flip cup in the SAE basement are (hopefully) over, so you (hopefully) aren’t going to be broadcasting when you’ve just finished vomiting.
This is how you refer to ‘convertibles.’ (But not your own convertible, since referring to your own covertible is pretty dickish in any decade.)
Eyeglasses. Hold off on this one till you’re over the age of 70, when you can combine it with “dear” or “doll.” (i.e. “Madge, be a dear and hand me my cheaters, I’m diving back into this crossword puzzle.”)
Like eggs in coffee.
“Things are going real smoothly.” There are a number of potentially gross implications here, but suitable for use with the fellas, perhaps when sitting down for a bench race.
Legs. “Check out the getaway sticks on the flapper, bub.”
I got my boots on.
“I get what’s going on, here.” (For example, say this to the lady at the front desk when your credit card was charged twice for an in-room movie.)
Now you’re on the trolley.
“Now you’re getting it.” (Say this to the lady at the front desk when she finally realizes the error.)
That’s a whole ‘nother tray of pork chops.
“That’s a totally different story.” (Say this to the lady at the front desk after you explain why you thought “Black Swan” sucked, but before you confirm that the multiple charges for watching this horrible movie have been removed.)
You’re thicker than a five dollar malt.
“You’re a dumb-ass.” Count on the person not getting the reference, for obvious reasons.
Hey, it’s snowing down south.
If you ever find yourself compelled to tell a woman that her slip is showing, here’s a confusing (yet charming) way to do so.
Trip for biscuits
Wild goose chase. (Hopefully not how you’d describe the experience of reading this post.)
See you in the funny papers…
- — C. Brian Smith