Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thirties Thursdays

Every decade coins its own slang and the 1930s gave birth to quite a few. Many of these phrases are still used today, although some have taken on different meanings. Here are a few phrases you might have heard in the US during the 1930s.

  • Abercrombie - A know-it-all.
  • Abyssinia - "I'll be seeing you".
  • Horn – telephone.
  • Apple – A big city.
  • Blow Your Wig - become very excited.
  • Broad/dame/doll – A woman.
  • Brodie - A mistake.
  • Gat/rod/heater/convincer – Gun.
  • Big House – Prison
  • Cadillac – An ounce of heroin or cocaine.
  • Canary – A female singer.
  • Cats/ alligators – Swing music afficianados.
  • City Juice/Dog Soup – A glass of water.
  • Chicago overcoat – A coffin.
  • Crust - To insult.
  • Doss - Sleep.
  • Gobble-pipe - A saxophone
  • Sourdough - counterfeit money
  • Togged to the bricks - Dressed up.
  • "Murder!" - Wow!


  1. Elspeth - This post is so fascinating to me! I think it's the linguist in me, but I just love to learn about different ways of using language and the way that language has evolved over time. Thanks for sharing those expressions. And by the way, as a writer, I think you're doing a terrific job of making your writing more real by using those expressions when they are appropriate.

  2. Margot; Most of these expressions are American but a few made it across the Pond. I admit I did think about you when I was researching this post!

  3. It's interesting that a few of those are still used for exactly the same definition.

  4. I am late today for sure. I've heard of some of these because I guess they're still around, but most are new to me. I love this stuff :)

  5. Great list. (And glad I write contemporaries--although even that slang gets outdated in a hurry)

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  6. I do know a lot of these. Does that mean I'm old. Wait... I never said them. I heard them from my father. LOL

    One I did not know was Cadillac. Interesting and a good detail to sneak into an historical set in that time period.


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