A Flapper's dictionary
August 24, 2009 1:21 AM   Subscribe

A Flapper's dictionary
posted by yegga (70 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
This would be an infinitely more useful and enjoyable resource if it included some basic background or etymology. Alas.
posted by disillusioned at 2:03 AM on August 24, 2009


I'm stealing "butt me".
posted by knowles at 2:08 AM on August 24, 2009


Ignore the brush-apes, this is the frog's eyebrows! Gonna put on my dog kennels, get a dive-ducat with my anchor and blouse to the egg harbor!
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:16 AM on August 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Petting parties"? Man, I've been wasting my life.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:35 AM on August 24, 2009 [8 favorites]


This is great, imagining what a great time that one-day-to-be grandmother had.

some context
posted by memebake at 2:35 AM on August 24, 2009


Sweetie: anybody she hates

This is still pretty popular.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:03 AM on August 24, 2009


Cake-Eater: A wearer of tight clothes, belted coat with spearlike lapels and one button, sausage trousers, low quick fitting collar, greenish pink shirt; and one of those jazzbo ties that gives you the giggles.

Well, of course. One of those guys. God, I hate those guys.
posted by maqsarian at 3:03 AM on August 24, 2009 [13 favorites]


Well, of course. One of those guys. God, I hate those guys.

I wonder if they get around on a 'fixie'?
posted by awfurby at 3:09 AM on August 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


Ah, don't be such an appleknocker. Get on the trolley, Ollie!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:14 AM on August 24, 2009


Look at this fucking cake-eater.
posted by maqsarian at 3:19 AM on August 24, 2009 [24 favorites]


I still use half-cut.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:33 AM on August 24, 2009


"Petting parties"? Man, I've been wasting my life.

Theory vs. practice, though?
posted by carbide at 4:43 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cake-Eater: A wearer of tight clothes, belted coat with spearlike lapels and one button, sausage trousers, low quick fitting collar, greenish pink shirt; and one of those jazzbo ties that gives you the giggles.

...Hipsters were much better dressed in the 20's.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:56 AM on August 24, 2009


When I see lists like this, I often wonder how often the words got used. If you were to make a list of "hip" words from today, you'd have a few in general usage, and then a lot more where even contemporaries (i.e., you and me) would say, "huh? People actually say that? And it means THAT?"

In other words, how many are that day's "awesome," and how many are that day's "fetch"?

Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen! It's not going to happen!
posted by explosion at 4:59 AM on August 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thank you Metafilter, for providing me the sign that, yes, yes I should wear my blue-stripped white summer jacket and canary yellow vest today.
posted by The Whelk at 5:17 AM on August 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thieves can't crash our petting party.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:33 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dig, the way these clydes wail is square city, daddy-o.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:40 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really like this one:

Corn-shredder - Young man who dances on lady's feet

It's the bee's knees.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 5:48 AM on August 24, 2009


Look at these fucking flappers.

(dot com.)
posted by rokusan at 5:53 AM on August 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


23 skidoo!
posted by condour75 at 5:57 AM on August 24, 2009


Sort of related: diner lingo.

I noticed that "plastered" is still used today, with the exact same meaning, so I looked through the list for other terms that still have currency. The only one I could find was "dogs" (for "feet"), and I've only heard that a couple of times (as "my dogs are barking") from old guys.

Some of the others are wonderfully evocative—"stutter-tub" for "motor boat"; "sugar" for "money". Even if I'd never heard this slang before, this is exactly how I'd expect young American libertines in the 1920s to talk, you know? Gritty and colorful and insouciant.

I have to agree with explosion, though—if you look at today's slang dictionaries (and if you know a thing or two about the subculture being documented), they're almost always eye-rollingly wrong, aside from a few widely known terms.

As for the lack of etymologies—aside from the fact that these were documented by someone's grandmother in 1922—slang is even more difficult than regular language to research. It's almost by nature spontaneous in origin and insular in usage—and it's generally spoken, not written, so there's much less of a paper trail to follow. The "etymology" for a lot of these is undoubtedly that somebody made a clever turn of phrase at a party, and it caught on.
posted by ixohoxi at 6:03 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post! Brings back many fond memories of the good old days. We had giants back then.
posted by Postroad at 6:08 AM on August 24, 2009


Social event devoted to hugging

Today you need a fistful of MDMA to make this work (or 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, as the kids call it today)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:33 AM on August 24, 2009


Are we really interested in archaic, lame language here..? GMAB
posted by vvurdsmyth at 6:36 AM on August 24, 2009


My first post was about Doris Eaton Travis, a Ziegfield Follies dancer and flapper. She's still going strong it seems.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:41 AM on August 24, 2009


OK, what is an egg harbor? and why would I wish to take a young lady to an egg harbor?
posted by mattoxic at 6:42 AM on August 24, 2009


Sorry, WHY egg harbor
posted by mattoxic at 6:43 AM on August 24, 2009


egg harbor

That is one of the stranger ones.

This page (among others) gives a slightly different definition: "a free dance".

Google Books to the rescue!
Egg. A male who allows a girl to pay for her ticket to a dance-hall (—1920); hence egg-harbor, a free dance.
See also: egg, "a person who lives the big life".
posted by ixohoxi at 7:07 AM on August 24, 2009


Today you need a fistful of MDMA to make this work (or 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, as the kids call it today)

Dunno about that. It probably helps, though.
posted by jquinby at 7:10 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a little sad that it doesn't have one of my personal faves, "mash notes," which I last heard used in, of all things, an episode of Veronica Mars.
posted by adipocere at 7:15 AM on August 24, 2009


I actually put pajamas on my cat once, and you know what? It really was!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:18 AM on August 24, 2009 [7 favorites]


I still don't understand what context all of this "finale hopping" took place in..
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:45 AM on August 24, 2009


Now I finally know the background of one of Heather Chandler's comment to Heather Duke in the movie Heathers! ("You're SUCH a pillowcase...")
posted by hermitosis at 7:49 AM on August 24, 2009


Isn't Egg Harbor also a place (geographical) noted by Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby?
posted by Postroad at 8:05 AM on August 24, 2009


what context all of this "finale hopping" took place in..

I'm guessing that would be at a place that had dinner followed by dancing. Show up after dinner just to say hello, sit at the table, get in on some dancing.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:07 AM on August 24, 2009


For added hilarity, say these out loud in a C. Montgomery Burns voice.
posted by John of Michigan at 8:09 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


All that and no 'sheik'?
posted by winna at 8:20 AM on August 24, 2009


"John D.: a oily person" -- John D. Rockefeller, the oil baron.

"The Great Gatsby" features East Egg and West Egg, fictionalized Manhasset Neck and Great Neck, both on Long Island.
posted by orthogonality at 8:22 AM on August 24, 2009


I noticed that "plastered" is still used today, with the exact same meaning, so I looked through the list for other terms that still have currency. The only one I could find was "dogs" (for "feet")

"Cat's Pajamas" in the fixed expression "It's the cat's pajamas!" is still understood, if not often used non-ironically. There are plenty of businesses and at least one software company with that name. "Mouthpiece" for lawyer is dated criminal slang, but still gets used now and then in echo of old detectivie fiction (OED has a 1994 citation from the Tucson Weekly).

I'll bet that around half of the terms on that list had local/regional currency only, one reason why so many are unfamiliar today.
posted by Creosote at 8:30 AM on August 24, 2009


Are we really interested in archaic, lame language here..? GMAB

I am. I know lots of other people here are rather keen on language, archaic or not.

And who is this "we" you keep slinging about? Your grousing about MetaFilter is off to an inauspicious start. I'm going to assume GMAB = give me a break. Which is a bit archaic and lame itself.

Look, you seem like a sharp fellow. Here's a bit of unsolicited advice: Stop that. You seem to be making assumptions about MetaFilter instead of observations.
posted by loquacious at 8:34 AM on August 24, 2009 [10 favorites]


A Fapper's dictionary. NSFW. I take full responsibility for MeFi becoming another cesspool of profanity.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:43 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


vvurdsmyth: Are we really interested in archaic [..] language here..?

Having read the poetry in his profile, I'm going to assume that vvurdsmyth's comment was facetious.
posted by applemeat at 8:44 AM on August 24, 2009


I would reckon so - one of those poems is very Emily Dickinson.
posted by mippy at 8:53 AM on August 24, 2009


vvurdsmyth - you seem to feel very cross about the language used on MeFi. Perhaps you ought to worry less on what 'we' are interested in - lots of threads on here don't interest me, but it would be rude to say the least if I went in them and told people to shut up about atheism, US politics or babies.
posted by mippy at 8:55 AM on August 24, 2009


'Spiv' is my favourite bit of archaic, lame language, but 'mash notes' is pretty cool.
posted by mippy at 8:56 AM on August 24, 2009


Darb - Gink with a roll of coin

And what in the sam hill is a gink, young lady?
posted by katillathehun at 9:03 AM on August 24, 2009


My boyfriend is no longer "The Old Man." Now he's "Father Time."
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:05 AM on August 24, 2009



posted by mippy at 9:06 AM on August 24, 2009


Aw, my comment just got eaten - but it was a bit mean anyway, and I ain't no gink.
posted by mippy at 9:07 AM on August 24, 2009


Are we really interested in archaic, lame language here..?
Yes. I love those old pictures of my grandmother from the late 20s/early 30s where, despite having recently stepped off the boat from Greece and growing up on the Lower East Side, she pretty quickly adopted a bunch of flapper-esque styles of dress. I enjoy the opportunity to get a window into what people were doing and saying back them.

vvurdsmyth's shtick seems to be about demonstrating to the MeFi community his mad language skillz, so I assume his comment was part of a challenge to us to discuss the importance of language and justify to him our interest. Maybe he's waiting for the opportunity to tell us why we really should be (or shouldn't be) interested, or maybe he's wondering why we'd actually be interested in the "lame" uses of language from the past rather than the sophisticated uses of the past and present. Who knows?
posted by deanc at 9:15 AM on August 24, 2009


Bah. I did a whole degree in linguistics, so justifying three years is going to take a bit of time. Do I need to do so in a manner which is deliberately obtuse to pass?
posted by mippy at 9:19 AM on August 24, 2009


There's a UK programme called 'The Supersizers' in which the presenters go back to a period and eat what would have been a typical diet then. The 1920s seemed to consist mainly of gherkins, champagne and cocaine, which would explain how girls fitted into those dresses.

One of my favourite books is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which very cleverly shows the pretensions and lack of education of the main character through language.
posted by mippy at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2009


"mash notes" is archaic?!
posted by kenko at 9:54 AM on August 24, 2009



Sort of related: diner lingo.
posted by ixohoxi


Which give me the excuse to link to a favourite Don Martin comic, "One Day in a Busy Highway Restaurant".
posted by Herodios at 9:54 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh my goodness, the Supersizers is a brilliant idea for a program.
posted by redsparkler at 10:30 AM on August 24, 2009


Handcuff = Engagement ring

Love it.
posted by sararah at 10:30 AM on August 24, 2009


IN THE FUTURE, portrayals by others of our
shared past will infringe upon our memories
of it, and people born after our time will
only understand it through the shorthand aspects
of cultural consensus found in the media.

Just like how everyone in the 20s was a flapper!!

posted by Rhaomi at 10:40 AM on August 24, 2009


Herodios - That is also a fave of mine... I can still recite it from memory after reading it as a nine-year-old thirty years ago...

"Cold pig on a green sea, dust the roof and hold the pom-pom!"
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:11 AM on August 24, 2009


Can't vouch for the reliability of this, just ran across searching for an etymology for 'getaway sticks', but since it's on topic: Slang of the '30s!
posted by barrett caulk at 11:20 AM on August 24, 2009


Everyone needs a petting party.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:34 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Slang of the '30s!

That link definitely reads better when imagined in a break-neck film-noir Edward G. Robinson voice, punctuated between lines with a "see?"
posted by Pollomacho at 11:37 AM on August 24, 2009


You know, much as I enjoyed this link, the funny thing is that I really hate slang. Certain things like state of mind lend themselves to metaphor (like the slang terms for drunk, happy, anything "good" etc.), but I can't imagine referring to my feet as "dogs" -- they're my feet -- or tea as "noodle juice" -- it is, after all, tea. I generally have a penchant for simply writing people off who frequently pepper their language with slang. If they do it in writing, I find it even more irritating.
posted by deanc at 11:37 AM on August 24, 2009


Everyone needs a petting party.

said the man who offered to host the next PDX meetup.

At his house.

o_O
posted by maqsarian at 11:42 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Deanc, I'm the complete opposite. Slang is what keeps language (or more accurately, conversion) alive for me. I have a pretty large vocabulary, but slang is impossible to keep on top of so it's a constant surprise and delight to me in conversation. Especially as I hang out with people from across England where the regional slang varies greatly.

The first time I heard of Jesus creepers, I was grinning for the entire day. An existence without Cockney rhyming slang is clown shoes.

In short: don't be so ritz, slat.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:48 PM on August 24, 2009


Polari
posted by The Whelk at 1:05 PM on August 24, 2009


Oh my goodness, the Supersizers is a brilliant idea for a program.

The French Revolution one was great - they pretended to be Louis and Marie Antoinette, then revolutionaries eating only black food (based on a contemporary menu), one of which was forty eggs baked in a pigs bladder. Then they got their cholesterol measured and found that a life of sybaritic excess is actually not that bad for one's health.
posted by mippy at 1:28 PM on August 24, 2009


Are we really interested in archaic, lame language here..? GMAB

Geezeus, Mary and Batman?
posted by phoque at 7:33 PM on August 24, 2009


I assume a scanal walker is a canal walker, maybe on the Delaware and Raritan.
posted by tellurian at 8:12 PM on August 24, 2009


I can't for the life of me guess why the canal walker might be called a Barney though. Barney-muggin is love-making, but is it only when you're doing it with the canal walker?
posted by tellurian at 8:16 PM on August 24, 2009


Hmm! maybe after Hiram Barney? But more probably something to do with 'Ole Barney', yes?
posted by tellurian at 8:33 PM on August 24, 2009


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