Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh, Kay! and the Langauge of a Musical

Hey all you Moon birds.  I was watching a rehearsal of Oh, Kay! and realized I don’t know from nothin’ about some of the swell language used by P. G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton and Ira Gershwin in the show.  I had to go a searchin’ and came across this swell website which listed all these terms; it was the bees knees and that’s no Banana Oil!

So here you go… here are some of the slang terms used in the 20’s and 30’s.  All of the terms that have been bolded are ones that you’re sure to hear in Oh, Kay!, which is playing at the Eurkea Theatre from Nov 2 to Nov 20, 2011.  For more information click here.  For tickets call (415) 255 -8207 Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5pm, or click here.

Abe's Cabe: five-dollar bill
ace: one-dollar bill
all wet: incorrect
And how!: I strongly agree!
apple sauce: flattery, nonsense, i.e.. "Aw, applesauce!"

baby: sweetheart; also denotes something of high value or respect
baby grand: heavily built man
baby vamp: an attractive or popular female; student
Banana Oil: Insincere flattery; nonsensical exaggeration
Bank's closed.: no kissing or making out ie. "Sorry, mac, bank's closed."
barrelhouse: illegal distillery
beat it: scram, get lost
beat one's gums: idle chatter
bee's knee's: terrific; a fad expression.
beef: a complaint or to complain
beeswax: business; student
belt: a drink of liquor
bent: drunk
big cheese: important person
bird: general term for a man or woman, sometimes meaning "odd," i.e. "What a funny old bird."
blind: drunk
bootleg: illegal liquor
breezer (1925): a convertible car
brown: whiskey
brown plaid: Scotch whiskey
Buddy Poppy: artificial flower warn in support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
bump off: to kill
bum's rush, the: ejection by force from an establishment
bunny (1925): a term of endearment applied to the lost, confused, etc; often coupled with "poor little"
Butt me.: I'll take a cigarette

caper: a criminal act or robbery
cat's meow: great, also "cat's pajamas" and "cat's whiskers"
cash: a kiss
Cash or check?: Do we kiss now or later?
check: kiss me later
chewing gum: double-speak, or ambiguous talk
clam: a dollar
coffin varnish: bootleg liquor, often poisonous
copacetic: excellent, all in order
crasher: a person who attends a party uninvited
cuddler: one who likes to make out

daddy: a young woman's boyfriend or lover, especially if he's rich
daddy-o: a term of address; strictly an African-American term
dapper: a Flapper's dad
deb: a debutant
dewdropper: a young man who sleeps all day and doesn't have a job
dick: a private investigator; coined around 1900, the term finds major recognition in the 20s
dogs: feet
doll: an attractive woman
dolled up: dressed up
don't know from nothing: doesn't have any information
don't take any wooden nickels: don't do anything stupid
dope: drugs, esp. cocaine or opium.
doublecross: to cheat, stab in the back
dough: money
drum: speakeasy
dry up: shut up, get lost
ducky: very good
dump: roadhouse

earful: enough
edge: intoxication, a buzz. i.e. "I've got an edge."
egg: a person who lives the big life
Ethel: an effeminate male.

a Flivver
face stretcher: an old woman trying to look young
fella: fellow. as common in its day as "man," "dude," or "guy" is today, i.e. "That John sure is a swell fella."
fire extinguisher: a chaperone
A fashionable young woman intent on enjoying herself and flouting conventional standards of behavior.
flivver: a Model T; after 1928, could mean any broken down car
fly boy: a glamorous term for an aviator
four-flusher: a person who feigns wealth while mooching off others

fried: drunk

gams (1930): legs
gasper: cigarette
Get Hot! Get Hot!: encouragement for a hot dancer doing his or her thing
get a wiggle on: get a move on, get going
get in a lather: get worked up, angry
giggle water: booze
gin mill: a seller of hard liquor; a cheap speakeasy
glad rags: "going out on the town" clothes
go chase yourself: get lost, scram.
goods, the: (1) the right material, or a person who has it (2) the facts, the truth, i.e. "Make sure the cops don't get the goods on you."
goof: (1) a stupid or bumbling person, (2) a boyfriend; flapper.
goofy: in love
grummy: depressed
grungy: envious

hair of the dog (1925): a shot of alcohol
handcuff: engagement ring
high hat: a snob
hip to the jive: cool, trendy
hit on all sixes: to perform 100 per cent; as "hitting on all six cylinders;" perhaps a more common variation in these days of four cylinder engines was "hit on all fours;" also see "big six".
hoary-eyed: drunk
hooch: booze
hood (late 20s): hoodlum
hooey: bullshit, nonsense; very popular from 1925 to 1930, used somewhat thereafter
hopped up: under the influence of drugs
horse linament: bootleg liquor

"I have to go see a man about a dog.": "I've got to leave now," often meaning to go buy whiskey
icy mitt: rejection
insured: engaged
iron (1925): a motorcycle, among motorcycle enthusiasts
iron one’s shoelaces: to go to the restroom

jack: money
Jake: great, i.e. "Everything's Jake."
Jalopy: a dumpy old car
Jane: any female
java: coffee
jeepers creepers: "Jesus Christ!"

jitney: a car employed as a private bus; fare was usually five cents, ergo the alternate nickname of "nickel"
joe: coffee
Joe Brooks: a perfectly dressed person; student
joint: establishment
jorum of skee: a drink of hard liquor
juice joint: a speakeasy

keen: appealing
killjoy: a solemn person
know one's onions: to know one's business or what one is talking about

left holding the bag: (1) to be cheated out of one's fair share (2) to be blamed for something
line: a false story, as in "to feed one a line"
live wire: a lively person
lollygagger: (1) a young man who enjoys making out (2) an idle person

a little moonshine, anyone?
manacle: wedding ring
mazuma: money
milquetoast (1924): a very timid person; from the comic book character Casper Milquetoast, a
mind your potatoes: mind your own business
moonshine: homemade whiskey
mop: a handkerchief
Mrs. Grundy: a prude or kill-joy
mulligan: Irish cop
munitions: face powder

neck: to kiss passionately; what would today be called "French kissing"
necker: a girl who wraps her arms around her boyfriend's neck
noodle juice: tea
nookie: sex
"Not so good!": "I personally disapprove."
"Now you're on the trolley!": "Now you've got it!".

old boy: a male term of address, used in conversation with other males as a way to denote acceptance in a social environment; also: "old man" or "old fruit"
Oliver Twist: a skilled dancer
on a toot: a drinking binge
on the lam: fleeing from police
on the level: legitimate, honest
on the up and up: on the level
orchid: an expensive item
ossified: drunk
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, who came from humble ethnic roots
panic: to produce a big reaction from one's audience
petting pantry: movie theater
phonus balonus: nonsense
piffle: baloney
pill: (1) a teacher (2) an unlikable person (3) cigarette
pinch: to arrest
pinko: liberal
pipe down: stop talking
putting on the ritz: after the Ritz Hotel in Paris (and its namesake Caesar Ritz); doing something in high style; also, "ritzy"

rag-a-muffin: a dirty or disheveled individual
razz: to make fun of
Real McCoy: a genuine item
regular: normal, typical, average
Reuben: an unsophisticated country bumpkin; also, "rube"
Rhatz!: "How disappointing!" flapper
rotgut: bootleg liquor
rummy: a drunken bum

sap: a fool, an idiot; very common term in the 20s
sawbuck: ten-dollar bill
says you: a reaction of disbelief
scratch: money
sheba: one's girlfriend
sheik: one's boyfriend
shine box: a bar or club for black patrons
simolean: a dollar
sinker: a doughnut
skee: Scotch whiskey
skirt: an attractive female
smarty: a cute flapper
smudger: a close dancer
snort: a drink of liquor
so's your old man: a reply of irritation
speakeasy: a bar selling illeagal liquor
spill: to talk
splifficated: drunk
spoon: to neck, or at least talk of love
static: (1) empty talk (2) conflicting opinion
stilts: legs
stuck on: in love; student.
swanky: (1) good (2) elegant
swell: (1) good (2) a high class person

take someone for a ride: to take someone to a deserted location and murder them
tasty: appealing
tea: marijuana
tell it to Sweeney: tell it to someone who'll believe it
three-letter man: homosexual
tight: attractive
tomato: a "ripe" female
torpedo: a hired thug or hit-man
trip for biscuits: wild goose chase

unreal: special
upstage: snobby

Pola Negri- Actress and Vamp
vamp: (1) a seducer of men, an aggressive flirt (2) to seduce
voot: money

water-proof: a face that doesn't require make-up
wet blanket: see Killjoy
white lightning: bootleg liquor
wife: dorm roommate; student.
"What's eating you?": "What's wrong?"
whoopee: wild fun

"You slay me!": "That's funny!"

zozzled: drunk

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