Wednesday’s Words: The Slang Game

Well cut off my legs and call me shorty! That particular bit of slang came from the 1940s. Can you guess what decades the rest of these came from?

  1. Heave, meaning to vomit
  2. Bitch, meaning to gripe
  3. Having the hots for someone
  4. To finger someone
  5. To come clean
  6. Groovy
  7. Sore, meaning angry
  8. Babe, meaning an attractive female
  9. Broad, meaning a woman
  10. A scream, meaning something hilarious
  11. Teenager
  12. Dough, meaning money
  13. Beef, meaning complaint
  14. Baby, meaning one’s sweetheart
  15. Bull, meaning bull crap
  16. Joe, meaning coffee
  17. John, meaning bathroom
  18. Hip, meaning cool
  19. Double-cross
  20. Dick, meaning private detective
  21. “What’s eating you?”

Okey-doke. Don’t get in a lather. I’m a hep-cat and won’t take a powder before I give you the poop. 1-3 are from the 1940s. 4-11 all date back to the 1930s. 12-17 are from the 1920s. 18 dates back to 1915. and 19-21 were used as early as 1900.

Now I have to go see a man about a dog.


About the author

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I, all available from Amazon and Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Watch for Light Bringer coming in March, 2011.

»» 6 Responses to “Wednesday’s Words: The Slang Game” »»
  1. Kat Sheridan says:

    Love these! I love reading old books and coming across some of these when they were common, pop parlance. For real slang joy, read Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammet. When I do critiques, I constantly warn writers about slang and pop culture references. Some may become timeless, and some may end up dating your work badly.

    And don’t you just love the current Progressive Insurance commercial with the old dude saying something like “Okey MsSmokey” and “Diggity”? LOL!

  2. L.V. Gaudet says:

    If only I had more time, I could probably figure some of them out – maybe.

    Ah, the life of the newly returned to working but got used to being a stay at home mom. Working is the easy part. The rest is a bugger to juggle and get through and get everything done.

  3. Hi Pat. I’m surprised at how far back these expressions go. I would have guessed the Sixties for groovy. If you sprinkle many of these words in your dialogue, it starts to sound like Frank Sinatra did in his ad-lib conversation at concerts.

  4. Beth says:

    I guessed 60s for a couple of them that were much older. Fun stuff, Pat. And as Kat said, they can easily date a piece of writing. (Or a film.)

    So, do we want to write with timelessness or write for the present only?

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  5. Pat Bertram says:

    I too was surprised by how far back some of these expressions go. Some are so common, they no longer seem like slang, such as double-cross.