Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Slang Used in the Late 1940's

Alderman: A man's pot belly.
Ameche: Telephone
(n) Woman
(v) To walk
Babe: Woman
Baby: A person, can be said to either a man or a woman
Bangtails: Racehorses
Barber: Talk
Baumes rush: Senator Caleb H. Baumes sponsored a New York law (the Baumes Law) which called for automatic life imprisonment of any criminal convicted more than three times. Some criminals would move to a state that didn't have this law in order to avoid its penalty should they be caught again, and this was known as a "Baumes rush," because of the similarity to "bum's rush."
Be on the nut, To: To be broke
Bean-shooter: Gun
Beezer: Nose
Behind the eight-ball: In a difficult position, in a tight spot
Bent cars: Stolen cars
Berries: Dollars
Big house: Jail
Big one, The: Death
Big sleep, The: Death (coined by Chandler)
Bim: Woman
of heroin: Little folded-up piece of paper (with heroin inside)
the bundle (or "brindle") in which a hobo carries all his worldy possessions
Bindle punk, bindle stiff: Chronic wanderers; itinerant misfits, criminals, migratory harvest workers, and lumber jacks. Called so because they carried a "bindle." George and Lenny in Of Mice and Men are bindle stiffs.
Bing: Jailhouse talk for solitary confinement, hence "crazy"
Bird: Man
Bit: Prison sentence
Blip off: To kill
Blow: Leave
Blow one down: Kill someone
Blower: Telephone
Bo: Pal, buster, fellow, as in "Hey, bo"
Boiler: Car
Boob: Dumb guy
Boozehound: Drunkard
Bop: To kill
A safe
A bar
Box job: A safecracking
Brace (somebody): Grab, shake up
Bracelets: Handcuffs
Break it up: Stop that, quit the nonsense
Breeze: To leave, go; also breeze off: get lost
Broad: Woman
Broderick, The: A thorough beating
Bruno: Tough guy, enforcer
Bucket: Car
Bulge, as in "The kid had the bulge there": The advantage
Bulls: Plainclothes railroad cops; uniformed police; prison guards
Bum's rush, To get the: To be kicked out
Bump: Kill
Bump gums: To talk about nothing worthwhile
Bump off: Kill; also, bump-off: a killing
Buncoing some (people): Defrauding people
"Take a bunk" - leave, disappear
"That's the bunk" - that's false, untrue
"to bunk" - to sleep
Bunny, as in "Don't be a bunny": Don't be stupid
Burn powder: Fire a gun
Bus: Big car
Butter and egg man: The money man, the man with the bankroll, a yokel who comes to town to blow a big wad in nightclubs (see reference)
Button: Face, nose, end of jaw
Button man: Professional killer
Buttons: Police
Butts: Cigarettes
Buy a drink: To pour a drink
Buzz, as in "I'm in the dump an hour and the house copper gives me the buzz": Looks me up, comes to my door
Buzzer: Policeman's badge
C: $100, a pair of Cs = $200
Cabbage: Money
Caboose: Jail (from "calaboose," which derives from calabozo, the Spanish word for "jail")
Call copper: Inform the police
Can house: Bordello
Can-opener: Safecracker who opens cheap safes
Canary: Woman singer
Case dough: "Nest egg ... the theoretically untouchable reserve for emergencies" (Speaking)
Cat: Man
Century: $100
Cheaters: Sunglasses
Cheese it: Put things away, hide
Chew: Eat
Chicago lightning: gunfire
Chicago overcoat: Coffin
Chick: Woman
Chilled off: Killed
Chin: Conversation; chinning: talking
Chin music: Punch on the jaw
Chinese angle, as in "You're not trying to find a Chinese angle on it, are you?": A strange or unusual twist or aspect to something
Chinese squeeze: Grafting by skimming profits off the top
Chippy: Woman of easy virtue
Chisel: To swindle or cheat
Chiv, chive: Knife, "a stabbing or cutting weapon" (Speaking)
Chopper squad: Men with machine guns
Clammed: Close-mouthed (clammed up)
Clean sneak: An escape with no clues left behind
Clip joint: In some cases, a night-club where the prices are high and the patrons are fleeced (Partridge's), but in Pick-Up a casino where the tables are fixed
Clipped: Shot
Close your head: Shut up
Clout: Shoplifter
Clubhouse: Police station
Coffee-and-doughnut, as in "These coffee-and-doughnut guns are ...": Could come from "coffee and cakes," which refers to something cheap or of little value.
Con: Confidence game, swindle
Conk: Head
Cool: To knock out
Cooler: Jail
Detective, even a private one
To win, as in a bet
Copped, To be: Grabbed by the cops
Time off for good behaviour
Corn: Bourbon ("corn liquor")
Crab: Figure out
Crate: Car
Creep joint: ?? Can mean a whorehouse where the girls are pickpockets, but that doesn't fit in Pick-Up
Croak: To kill
Croaker: Doctor
Crushed out: Escaped (from jail)
Cush: Money (a cushion, something to fall back on)
Cut down: Killed (esp. shot?)
Daisy: None too masculine
Dame: Woman
Dance: To be hanged
Dangle: Leave, get lost
Darb: Something remarkable or superior
Dark meat: Black person
Daylight, as in "let the daylight in" or "fill him with daylight": Put a hole in, by shooting or stabbing
Deck, as in "deck of Luckies": Pack of cigarettes
Derrick: Shoplifter
Diapers, as in "Pin your diapers on": Clothes, get dressed
Dib: Share (of the proceeds)
Dick: Detective (usually qualified with "private" if not a policeman)
Dinge: Black person
Dingus: Thing
Dip: Pickpocket
Dip the bill: Have a drink
Dish: Pretty woman
Dive: A low-down, cheap sort of place
Dizzy with a dame, To be: To be deeply iin love with a woman
Do the dance: To be hanged
Dogs: Feet
Doll, dolly: Woman
Drugs, of any sort
As a verb, as in "I had him doped as" - to have figured for
Dope fiend: Drug addict
Dope peddler: Drug dealer
Dormy: Dormant, quiet, as in "Why didn't you lie dormy in the place you climbed to?"
Dough: Money
Drift: Go, leave
Drill: Shoot
Drink out of the same bottle, as in "We used to drink out of the same bottle": We were close friends
Drop a dime: Make a phone call, sometimes meaning to the police to inform on someone
Droppers: Hired killers
Drum: Speakeasy
Dry-gulch: Knock out, hit on head after ambushing
For hobos, a union card or card asking for alms
Duck soup: Easy, a piece of cake
Dummerer: Somebody who pretends to be (deaf and?) dumb in order to appear a more deserving beggar
Dump: Roadhouse, club; or, more generally, any place
Nothing, as in "Tinhorns are dust to me"
Leave, depart, as in "Let's dust"
A look, as in "Let's give it the dust"
Dust out: Leave, depart
As in "in dutch" - trouble
As in "A girl pulled the Dutch act" - committed suicide
As in "They don't make me happy neither. I get a bump once'n a while. Mostly a Dutch." - ?? relates to the police (Art)
Eel juice: liquor
Egg: Man
Eggs in the coffee: Easy, a piece of cake, okay, all right
A collar or an arrest. Someone being arrested will "have their elbows checked."
Electric cure: Electrocution
Elephant ears: Police
Fade: Go away, get lost
Fakeloo artist: Con man
Fin: $5 bill
Finder: Finger man
Finger, Put the finger on: Identify
As in "That's flat" - that's for sure, undoubtedly
Flattie: Flatfoot, cop
Flimflam(m): Swindle
Flippers: Hands
Flivver: A Ford automobile
Flogger: Overcoat
Go to bed
As in "The racket's flopped" - fallen through, not worked out
Flophouse: "A cheap transient hotel where a lot of men sleep in large rooms" (Speaking)
Fog: To shoot
Frail: Woman
Frau: Wife
Fry: To be electrocuted
From nothing, as in "I know from nothing": I don't know anything
Gams: Legs (especially a woman's)
Gashouse, as in "getting gashouse": Rough
Gasper: Cigarette
Gat: Gun
Gate, as in "Give her the gate": The door, as in leave
Gaycat: "A young punk who runs with an older tramp and there is always a connotation of homosexuality" (Speaking)
Gee: Man
Geetus: Money
Getaway sticks: Legs (especially a woman's)
Giggle juice: Liquor
Gin mill: Bar
Gink: Man
Girlie: Woman
Give a/the third: Interrogate (third degree)
Glad rags: Fancy clothes
To steal
To see, to take a look
Glaum: Steal
Go climb up your thumb: Go away, get lost
Go over the edge with the rams: To get far too drunk
Go to read and write: Rhyming slang for take flight
Gonif: Thief (Yiddish)
Goofy: Crazy
Goog: Black eye
Goon: Thug
Goose: Man
Gooseberry lay: Stealing clothes from a clothesline (see reference)
Gowed-up: On dope, high
Grab (a little) air: Put your hands up
Con jobs
Cut of the take
Grand: $1000
Mexicans or Italians.
A hoodlum, thief or punk.
As in "What's the grift?": What are you trying to pull?
Confidence game, swindle
Grifter: Con man
Grilled: Questioned
As in "Don't ... gum every play I make": Gum up, interfere with
Gum-shoe: Detective; also gumshoeing = detective work
Gun for: Look for, be after
Gunman (Hammett is responsible for this use; see note)
"1. (p) A male oral sodomist, or passive pederast. 2. A brat. 3. (By extension) An informer; a weasel; an unscrupulous person." (Underworld)
Note Yiddish "ganzl" = gosling
Hack: Taxi
Half, A:50 cents
Hammer and saws: Police (rhyming slang for laws)
Hard: Tough
Harlem sunset: Some sort fatal injury caused by knife (Farewell, 14)
Hash house: A cheap restaurant
Hatchetmen: Killers, gunmen
Have the bees: To be rich
Have the curse on someone: Wanting to see someone killed
Head doctors: Psychiatrists
Heap: Car
Heat: A gun, also heater
Heeled: Carrying a gun
High pillow: Person at the top, in charge
Corrupt politician or functionary
Professional killer operating in the Chinese quarter of a city
Hinky: Suspicious
Hitting the pipe: Smoking opium
Hitting on all eight: In good shape, going well (refers to eight cylinders in an engine)
Hock shop: Pawnshop
Hogs: Engines
Hombre: Man, fellow
Hooch: Liquor
Hood: Criminal
Hooker, as in "a stiff hooker of whiskey": A drink of strong liquor
Hoosegow: Jail
Drugs, mostly morphine or derivatives like heroin
Hop-head: Drug addict, esp. heroin
Horn: Telephone
Hot: Stolen
House dick: House/hotel detective
House peeper: House/hotel detective
Hype: Shortchange artist
Ice : Diamonds
In stir: In jail
Ing-bing, as in to throw an: A fit
Iron: A car
Jack: Money
Jake, Jakeloo: Okay
Jam: Trouble, as in "in a jam"
Jane: A woman
Jasper: A man (perhaps a hick)
Java: Coffee
Jaw: Talk
Jerking a nod: Nodding
Jingle-brained: Addled
Jobbie: Man
Joe: Coffee, as in "a cup of joe"
Johns: Police
Johnson brother: Criminal
Joint: Place, as in "my joint"
Jorum of skee: Shot of liquor
Joss house: Temple or house of worship for a Chinese religion
Juice: Interest on a loanshark's loan
Jug: Jail
Jujus: Marijuana cigarettes
Jump, The: A hanging
Junkie: Drug addict
Kale: Money
Keister, keyster:
Safe, strongbox
Kick, as in "I got no kick": I have nothing to complain about
Kick off: Die
Kicking the gong around: Taking opium
Kiss: To punch
Kisser: Mouth
Kitten: Woman
Knock off: Kill
Knockover: Heist, theft
Lammed off: Ran away, escaped
Large: $1,000; twenty large would be $20,000
Law, the: The police
Job, as in Marlowe saying he's on "a confidential lay;" or more generally, what someone does, as in "The hotel-sneak used to be my lay"
As in "I gave him the lay" - I told him where things stood (as in lay of the of land)
Lead poisoning: To be shot
Lettuce: Folding money
Lid: Hat
Lip: (Criminal) lawyer
Lit, To be: To be drunk
Loogan: Marlowe defines this as "a guy with a gun"
Looker: Pretty woman
Look-out: Outside man
Lousy with: To have lots of
Man ("You big lug!")
Lunger: Someone with tuberculosis
Made: Recognized
Map: Face
Marbles: Pearls
Mark: Sucker, victim of swindle or fixed game
Mazuma: Money
Meat, as in "He's your meat": He's the subject of interest, there's your man
Meat wagon: Ambulance
Mesca: Marijuana
Mickey Finn
(n) A drink drugged with knock-out drops
(v) Take a Mickey Finn: Take off, leave
Mill: Typewriter
Mitt: Hand
Mob: Gang (not necessarily Mafia)
Moll: Girlfriend
Monicker: Name
Mouthpiece: Lawyer
Mud-pipe: Opium pipe
Mug: Face
Muggles: Marijuana
Mugs: Men (esp. dumb ones)
Mush: Face
Nailed: Caught by the police
Nance: An effeminate man
Nevada gas: Cyanide
Newshawk: Reporter
Newsie: Newspaper vendor
Nibble one: To have a drink
Nicked: Stole
Nippers: Handcuffs
Nix on (something): No to (something)
Noodle: Head
Nose-candy: Heroin, in some cases
Number: A person, can be either a man or a woman
Off the track, as in "He was too far off the track. Strictly section eight": Said about a man who becomes insanely violent
Op: Detective (esp. private), from "operative"
Orphan paper: Bad cheques
Out on the roof, To be: To drink a lot, to be drunk
Oyster fruit: Pearls
Pack: To carry, esp. a gun
Palooka: Man, probably a little stupid
Pan: Face
Paste: Punch
Patsy: Person who is set up; fool, chump
Paw: Hand
Peaching: Informing
Pearl diver: dish-washer
Peeper: Detective
Pen: Penitentiary, jail
Peterman: Safecracker who uses nitroglycerin
Pigeon: Stool-pigeon
Pinch: An arrest, capture
Pins: Legs (especially a woman's)
Pipe: See or notice
Pipe that: Get that, listen to that
Pipes: Throat
Pistol pockets: ?? heels?
Pitching woo: Making love (Turner)
(n) Someone on the scene but in hiding
(v) Bury
Plug: Shoot
Plugs: People
Bankroll, stake
Punch (as in "take a poke at")
Pooped: Killed
Pop: Kill
Pro skirt: Prostitute
Puffing: Mugging
Pug: Pugilist, boxer
Pump: Heart
Pump metal: Shoot bullets
Hood, thug
"A jailhouse sissy who is on the receiving end." (Also as a verb, as in "to get punked.")
Puss: Face
Put down: Drink
Put the screws on: Question, get tough with
(n) Counterfeit
(n) Sexually abnormal
(v) To ruin something or put it wrong ("queer this racket")
Rags: Clothes
Ranked: Observed, watched, given the once-over
Criminal charge
Information, as in "He gave us the rap"
Rappers: Fakes, set-ups
Rat: Inform
Rate: To be good, to count for something
Rats and mice: Dice, i.e. craps
Rattler: Train
Red-light: To eject from a car or train
Redhot: Some sort of criminal
Reefers: Marijuana cigarettes
Rhino: Money
Ribbed up, as in "I got a Chink ribbed up to get the dope": Set up, arranged for? "I have arranged for a Chinese person to get the information"? (Knockover, 203)
Right: Adjective indicating quality
Right gee, Right guy: A good fellow
Ringers: Fakes
Rod: Gun
Roscoe: Gun
A fighter with a glass jaw
A woman of easy virtue
Rub-out: A killing
Rube: Bumpkin, easy mark
Rumble, the: The news
Run-out, To take the : Leave, escape
A dumb guy
A blackjack
Sap poison: Getting hit with a sap
Savvy?: Get me? Understand?
Sawbuck: $10 bill (a double sawbuck is a $20 bill)
Scatter, as in "And don't bother to call your house peeper and send him up to the scatter"
Saloon or speakeasy.
A hideout, a room or lodging
Schnozzle: Nose
Scram out: Leave
Scratch: Money
Scratcher: Forger
Leave, as in "Let's screw before anybody pops in"
Prison guard
Send over: Send to jail
Shamus: (Private) detective
Sharper: A swindler or sneaky person
Shells: Bullets
Black person
Moonshine, bootleg liquor
Shine Indian: ?? (Knockover, 89)
Shiv: Knife
Shylock: Loanshark
Shyster: Lawyer
Silk, as in "all silk so far": All okay so far
Sing: Confess, admit secrets
Sister: Woman
Skate around, as in "She skates around plenty": To be of easy virtue
Skid rogue: A bum who can't be trusted
Skipout: Leave a hotel without paying, or a person who does so
Skirt: Woman
Slant, Get a: Take a look
Sleuth: Detective
As a noun, bullet
As a verb, to knock unconscious
Smell from the barrel, Have a: Have a drink
Smoke: A black person
Smoked: Drunk
Snap a cap: Shout
Snatch: Kidnap
Leave, get lost, as in "If you're not a waiter, sneak"
Type of burglary, as in as in "The hotel-sneak used to be my lay"
Sneeze: Take
Snitch: An informer, or, as a verb, to inform
Snooper: Detective
Snort (as in of gin): A drink
Snow-bird: (Cocaine) addict
Snowed: To be on drugs (heroin? cocaine?); also "snowed up"
Soak: To pawn
Sock: Punch
Soup: Nitroglycerine
Soup job: To crack a safe using nitroglycerine
Spill: Talk, inform; spill it = tell me
Spinach: Money
Spitting: Talking
Spondulix: Money
Square: Honest; on the square: telling the truth
Squirt metal: Shoot bullets
Step off: To be hanged
Sticks of tea: Marijuana cigarettes
Stiff: A corpse
Sting: Culmination of a con game
Stool-pigeon: Informer
Stoolie: Stool-pigeon
Stringin': As in along, feeding someone a story
Sucker: Someone ripe for a grifter's scam
Sugar: Money
Swift, To have plenty of: To be fast (on the draw)
Swing: Hang
Tail: Shadow, follow
Take a powder: Leave
Take it on the heel and toe: Leave
Take on: Eat
Take the air: Leave
Take the bounce: To get kicked out (here, of a hotel)
Take the fall for: Accept punishment for
Tea: Marijuana
That's the crop: That's all of it
Three-spot: Three-year term in jail
Throw a joe: Pass out ?? (Key, 86)
Throw lead: Shoot bullets
Ticket: P.I. license
Tiger milk: Some sort of liquor
Tighten the screws: Put pressure on somebody
Tin: Badge
Tip a few: To have a few drinks
Tip your mitt: Show your hand, reveal something
Tomato: Pretty woman
Tooting the wrong ringer: Asking the wrong person
Torcher: Torch singer
Torpedoes: Gunmen
Trap: Mouth
Trigger man: Man whose job is to use a gun
Trip for biscuits, as in "You get there fast and you get there alone - or you got a trip for biscuits": Make the trip for no purpose, achieve no results
Trouble boys: Gangsters
Turn up: To turn in (to the police)
Twist: Woman
Two bits: $25, or 25 cents.
Under glass: In jail
Up-and-down, as in "to give something the up-and-down": A look
Uppers, as in "I've been shatting on my uppers for a couple of months now" or "I'm down on my uppers": To be broke
Vag, as in vag charge, vag law: Vagrancy
Vig, Vigorish
Excessive interest on a loanshark's loan
Advantage in odds created by a bookie or gambler to increase profit
Weak sister: A push-over
Wear iron: Carry a gun
Wheats, as in "a stack of wheats": Pancakes
Good, okay, as in "white dick"
Gin ("a gallon of white")
Wikiup: Home
Wire, as in "What's the wire on them?": News, "What information do you have about them?"
Wise, To be To be knowledgeable of; put us wise: tell us
Wise head: A smart person
Wooden kimono: A coffin
Worker, as in "She sizes up as a worker": A woman who takes a guy for his money
Wrong gee: Not a good fellow
Wrong number: Not a good fellow

Yap: Mouth
Yard: $100

Yegg: Safecracker who can only open cheap and easy safes
Zotzed: Killed

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