1940’s Hepcats and Jitterbugs – Can you talk the talk?

I think that more than half the fun of writing the Avon Calling! series, is putting into play all of the swell slang and turns of phrase from 1940’s New York. Jazz and Swing were topping the charts and every bar was rolling with doll-dizzy service boys, ducky shincrackers in zoot suits and lulu dames.

I thought I’d make a snappy little list for you of some of the terms you’ll recognise from the Avon Calling! episodes. If there are a few you haven’t seen yet, don’t worry – you will soon! You can play “Spot the Slang” in the new episodes when they are released!

Here’s some swell 1940’s slang  —  and what it means!

All wet – doesn’t know what he’s talking about, wrong
Are you rationed? – Are you going steady/ do you have a boyfriend?
Active Duty – promiscuous man
Able Grable –  girl with low morals
Anchor Clanker – Sailor
Bust your chops – To scold/ chastise someone.
Beat me daddy eight to the bar – Exclamation of excitement or accomplishment
Bathtub – Sidecar for a motorcycle
Bobbysox Brigade – Young girls/ jitterbugs
Bluenose – puritanical person, prude
The Cat’s Meow – The best, stylish, most splendid
Cookie, Sugar, Dolly, Bird – A cute girl
Chucklehead, Fathead – idiot
Dame, Broad – a woman
Darb – A person who can be relied on for money
Dead hoofer – a bad dancer
Dish – pretty, attractive woman
Doll- Dizzy – Infatuated/ Crazy about girls
Dreamboat – handsome man
Drugstore Cowboy – a guy that hangs on street corners to pick up girls
Ducky shincracker – a great dancer
Duds – clothing
Flatfoot, brass, buttons – police officer
Flat tire – dull or boring person
Flip your wig – tantrum, overreact
G-man – FBI
GI’s – Government Issue (American Soldier)
Gat – Gatling Gun
Gams – a woman’s legs
Gas – a good time or really funny
Gay – Fun-filled, joyful
Giggle water – Alcohol
Gone with the wind – Run off with the money
Glitterati – People in the spotlight, glamour and glitz
Gumshoe – A private investigator
Hard-boiled – A tough man
Hepcats – An admirer of jazz and swing, a hip person
High hat – To snub, self-important person
Hit the Silk – escape, bail out, use a parachute
Horsefeathers!, Applesauce! – an expletive
Hot dog! – an expression of surprise
Hotsy Totsy – pleasing, flirtatious, looking good
Humdinger – amazing, outstanding
I’m going fishing! – looking for a date
Jalopy – old car
Jeepers – exclamation of alarm
Jitterbug – A style of dance (or the girl performing it)
Khaki Wacky – a boy crazy girl (for soldiers in uniform)
Killer diller – the best, great stuff
Kisser – mouth
Knuckle sandwich – a punch in the mouth
Lettuce – money
Lulu – something outstanding, excellent
Moll – a gangster’s girl
Motorized Freckles – Insects
Mug – face
On the nose – Exactly
Off the hook – cleared of guilt
Pennies from heaven – Money easily made
Rub Out, Bump Off – Murder
Share Crop – promiscuous woman
Smoke out – reveal
Snap your cap – get angry, tantrum
Spiffy – elegant, good-looking and clean
Spiv – flashy man, underhanded, disreputable
Swell – wonderful
Take a powder – to leave, get lost
Unmentionables – undergarments
Whistl’n Dixie – wasting time

Now that you’re in the know, you can throw a few into your next conversation!