1920’s Slang Dictionary 2018-05-08T09:25:04+00:00


1920’s Slang Dictionary

When I was writing the second book in my “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore” series, “Ripples,” I wanted the dialogue of my spirit characters (who lived during the Roaring Twenties) to sound authentic. To accomplish this, I scrubbed the Internet, searching for slang words/terms and wound up compiling the following, alphabetical list.

No matter what your reason for searching for 1920s slang, I’m sure you’ll find this list is just the berries, so what are you waiting for? Get your wiggle on and start learning these terms. In no time, you’ll be able to beat your gums like a real McCoy!

Abe’s: Five-dollar bills
Ab-so-lute-ly: Affirmative
Ace: One-dollar bill
Alderman: A man’s pot-belly.
All Wet: Describes an erroneous idea or individual, as in: “he’s all wet.”
Alley Cat: A ladies’ man, or a man who tends to cheat on women
Ameche: Telephone
And How: I strongly agree!
Ankle: To walk
Applesauce: Nonsense, as in: “Oh applesauce!”
Attaboy: Well done! (Also Attagirl!)

Babe: Woman
Baby: A person, can be said to either a man or a woman
Baby Grand: Heavily built man
Baby Vamp: An attractive or popular female; student
Balled Up: Confused, messed up
Baloney: Nonsense!
Bangtails: Racehorses
Bank’s Closed: What you tell someone to stop kissing or making out, as in: “Sorry, Mac, the bank’s closed.”
Barber: Talk
Barrel House: An illegal distillery
Bearcat: A hot-blooded or fiery girl
Beat It: Scram or ‘get lost’
Beat One’s Gums: Idle chatter
Bean-shooter: Gun
Beef: Problem
Bee’s Knees: An extraordinary person, thing or idea. Also: elephant’s eyebrows, gnat’s whistle, eel’s hips
Beeswax: Business, as in: “It’s none of your beeswax.”
Beezer: Nose
Bell bottom: A sailor
Belt: A drink of liquor
Behind The Eight Ball: In a difficult position, in a tight spot (refers to a difficult shot when playing pool)
Bent: Drunk
Bent Cars: Stolen cars
Berries: That which is attractive or pleasing, as in: “It’s the berries.”
Bible Belt: Area in the South/Midwest USA, where Fundamentalism flourishes & alcohol is frowned upon
Big Cheese: The boss or someone of importance/influence. Also, a big shot
Big House: Jail
Big One: Death
Big Shot: The boss or someone of importance/influence. Also: big cheese
Big Six: A strong man (came from auto advertising for the new and powerful; six cylinder engines)
Big Sleep: Death
Bim: Woman
Bimbo: A tough, but dimwitted man or woman
Bindle: The bundle in which a hobo carries all his worldly possessions
Bindle punk or bindle stiff: Chronic wanderers, railroad hobos, migratory harvest workers, lumber jacks, etc.
Bing: Jailhouse talk for solitary confinement
Bird: General term for a man or woman, sometimes meaning an odd person, as in: “What a funny old bird.”
Bit: Prison sentence
Blind Date: Going out with someone you do not know
Blip off: To kill
Blow: Leave
Blow One Down: 1) Kill someone 2) Gulp down an entire drink without pausing
Blower: Telephone
Bluenose: An excessively puritanical person, a prude
Bo: Someone you’re dating, Also, a pal or a friendly fellow
Boiler: Car
Boob: Dumb guy
Bootleg: Illegal liquor
Bootlegger: A person who transports illegal liquor
Boozehound: Drunkard
Bop: To kill
Box: A safe or a bar
Box Job: A safecracking
Brace Somebody: Grab a person, shake them up
Bracelets: Handcuffs
Break It Up: Stop that, quit the nonsense
Breeze: To leave
Breeze off: Tell somebody to get lost
Breezer: A convertible car
Broad: Woman
Bronx Cheer: A loud spluttering noise, used to indicate disapproval. Also: Raspberry
Brown: Whisky
Brown Plaid: Scotch whisky
Bruno: Tough guy, enforcer
Bubs: A woman’s breasts
Bucket: Car
Bulge: To have an advantage, as in: “Bet on that fighter – he has the bulge over the other fella.”
Bull: Several meanings (1) Policeman/FBI/plainclothes or railroad cop/prison guard (2) Nonsense (3) Idle chat
Bull Session: Mostly male gossip session – often bragging about sexual exploits
Bum’s Rush: To be kicked out, as in: “The bartender gave him the bum’s rush.”
Bump Gums: Have a conversation about nothing worthwhile
Bump off: To kill or describe a killing
Bunny: A term of endearment applied to the lost/confused/unaware as in: “Aw, you poor little bunny.”
Burn powder: To fire a gun
Bus: A big car
Bushwa: Baloney!
Busthead: Homemade liquor
Butter & Egg Man: Man with a big bankroll, or a yokel who comes to town to blow a big wad in nightclubs
Button: Face, nose, end of jaw
Button Down Man: A hired killer
Button Your Lip: Stop talking
Butts: Cigarettes
Butt me: Give me a cigarette
Buzz: To look someone up, or to go to a person’s door
Buzzer: Policeman’s badge
C Note: A one hundred dollar bill (A pair of Cs = $200)
Cabbage: Money
Caboose: Jail
Cake-eater: In the 1920’s this term refers to a “ladies’ man” (Later it became slang for homosexual)
Call the Coppers: Inform the police
Can: Jail, or old car
Canned: Drunk
Cat House: Bordello
Cancelled Stamp: A shy, lonely person, (Later this person might be described as a “wallflower”)
Can Opener: Safecracker
Canary: Female singer
Caper: A criminal act or robbery
Carry a Torch: To have a crush on someone, whether it’s requited or unrequited
Case Dough: A hidden nest egg
Cash: A kiss
Cash or check?: Should we kiss now or later?
Cast a kitten: To have a fit. Used to describe both serious & light-hearted situations.
Cat: A man
Cat’s Meow: Splendid or stylish thing or person; The best/greatest/wonderful.
Cat’s Pajamas: Term to describe something/someone great, as in: “His singing is the cat’s pajamas!”
Celestial: A derogatory term for Asian people
Century: One hundred dollars
Chassis: The female body
Chatter Rod: Automatic weapon, machine gun
Cheaters: Eyeglasses or bifocals
Cheese It: Run, leave or put things out of sight very quickly
Check: Kiss me later
Chew: Eat, as in: “Want to go for a chew?”
Chewing Gum: Double-speak, or Ambiguous/hard to decipher/mumbled talk
Chicago Lightning: Gunfire
Chicago Overcoat: A coffin
Chicago Typewriter: A rapid-fire gun – usually a Thompson submachine gun, or ‘Tommy Gun’
Chick: Woman
Chilled Off: Killed
Chin: To have a conversation (Chinning = talking)
Chin Music: 1) Talking 2) To give someone a punch on the jaw
Chinese Squeeze: Grafting or stealing by skimming profits off the top
Chippy: A woman of easy virtue
Chisel: To swindle or cheat
Choice Bit of Calico: A desirable woman
Chopper: A Thompson Sub-Machine Gun (due to the amount of damage .45 caliber rounds did very quickly)
Chopper Squad: A group of men with machine guns
Chump: A person marked as an easy victim of a con, or a gullible person.
Chunk of Lead: An unattractive female, or a bullet
Ciggy: A cigarette
Clam: One dollar
Clammed: Close-mouthed (“He clammed up.”)
Clean Sneak: To make an escape with no clues left behind
Clip Joint: A nightclub where the patrons are fleeced – the prices are high and/or liquor is watered-down
Clipped: To get shot
Close Your Head: Shut up
Clout: Shoplifter
Clubhouse: Police station
Coffin varnish: Rot-gut liquor, often poisonous – usually made in stills with lead tubing or harmful ingredients
Con: Confidence game, swindle
Conk: Head
Cool: To knock out
Cooler: Jail
Coot: Old man
Copacetic: Everything’s fine, all right, working out in a pleasing manner
Cop: Policeman, FBI, detective or private detective
Copped: Confessed to a wrongdoing, or caught by the cops
Copper: Policeman, FBI or detective
Corked: Extremely drunk; ready to pass out. Same as spifflicated, tanked or zozzled
Corn: Bourbon (as in liquor made from corn)
Crab: Try to work out a puzzling situation
Crasher: An uninvited guest at a party or event
Crate: Car that is not stylish
Croak: To die
Croaker: Doctor or surgeon
Crush: An infatuation.
Crushed Out: Escaped from jail
Cuddler: A person who likes to make out a lot
Cut Down: Killed
Daddy: A young woman’s boyfriend or lover (usually older and rich)
Daisy: A feminine man
Dame: Woman
Dangle: Leave
Dapper: A flapper’s father/dad
Darb: An excellent person or thing, as in: “He’s a darb – always willing to pay the check”
Dead Soldier: An empty beer bottle
Deb: A debutant
Deck: A pack of cigarettes, as in: “I’ll take a deck of Luckies, please”
Derrick: Shoplifter
Dewdropper: A slacker, often unemployed. Someone who sits around all day and does nothing
Dib: To claim a share of something, or be the first to choose something, like a specific seat
Dick: Detective A policeman not in uniform
Dingus: When an object’s actual name escapes you, as in: “Hand me the dingus that goes on this thingamabob.”
Dip: Pickpocket
Dip Your Bill: Have a drink
Dish: Pretty woman
Dive: A low-brow, cheap or seedy sort of place
Dizzy With a Dame: Madly in love with a woman
Do the Rope Dance: To be hanged (same as Do the Jump)
Dogs: Feet
Doll: An attractive woman
Dolled Up: All dressed up
Don’t Know From Nothing: Doesn’t possess any pertinent information
Don’t Take Any Wooden Nickels: Don’t do anything stupid
Dope: Drugs – especially cocaine or opium.
Dope fiend: Drug addict
Dope Peddler: Drug dealer
Double-cross: To cheat, betray, stab in the back
Dough: Money
Drag: A dull, boring or disappointing date or party-goer (Same as pill, pickle, rag, oilcan or flat tire)
Drift: Go, leave, amble off
Drill: Shoot
Drop a Nickle (later– Dime): Call the police or somebody’s boss to inform on them (refers to cost of phone call)
Droppers: Hired killers
Drugstore Cowboy: A man who hangs out on a street corner, trying to pick up girls
Drum: Speakeasy
Dry-Gulch: Knock someone out – usually via a hit on head after ambushing them
Dry Up: Tell someone to shut up, or get lost
Duck Soup: An easy task – a piece of cake
Ducky: Very good
Dumb Dora: A dull-witted female
Dummer: A person who pretends to be deaf and/or dumb to appear as a more deserving beggar
Dump: A run-down place, like a roadhouse, night club or apartment
Dust Out: Leave, depart in a swift fashion
Earful: To hear a lot about a given subject
Edge: Intoxication, a buzz, as in: “I’ve got an edge.”
Eel’s Hips: An extraordinary person, thing or idea. Also: bees knees, elephant’s ears, gnat’s whistle
Egg: Man – a person who lives the big life
Electric cure: Electrocution
Elephant ears: Police
Elephant’s Eybrows: An extraordinary person, thing or idea. Also: bees knees, gnat’s whistle, eel’s hips
Embalmed: Drunk
Ethel: an effeminate male
Face Stretcher: An old woman who is trying to look much younger
Fade: Go away, get lost
Fag: A cigarette (Later it became slang for homosexual)
Fakeloo Artist: Con man
Fall Guy: Victim of a frame-up
Fella: A man
Fill With Daylight: Put several holes in a person via shooting or stabbing
Fin: A five dollar bill
Finger: Identify someone
Fire Extinguisher: A chaperone
Fish: (1) A college freshman (2) A first timer in prison
Flaming Youth: Male counterpart to a flapper
Flapper: A stylish, brash young woman with short skirts and shorter hair.
Flat Foot: Policeman (usually one who walks a beat)
Flat Tire: A dull, boring or disappointing date or party-goer (Same as pill, pickle, drag, rag, oilcan or flat tire)
Flattie: Flatfoot, policeman (usually one who walks a beat.)
Flimflam: Swindle
Flippers: Hands
Flivver: A Ford Model T after 1928, but could mean any old broken down car
Flogger: Overcoat
Floor-flusher: An insatiable dancer
Flop: Go to bed or something that doesn’t work out
Flophouse: A cheap transient hotel where several men sleep on cots in large rooms
Flour Lover: A girl wearing too much face powder
Fly boy – A glamorous term for an aviator/pilot
Fog: To shoot
For Crying Out Loud: “You’ve got to be kidding!”
Four-flusher: Someone who mooches money off others in order to feign wealth
Frail: Woman
Frame – To give false evidence, or to set up someone up to take the blame for something they didn’t do
Frau: Wife
Fried/Fried to the Hat: Drunk
Fry: To be electrocuted
Futz: A euphemism for f**k, as in: “Don’t futz around.”
Fuzz: Police/FBI/Detective

Gal: Woman
Gams: A Woman’s Legs
Gatecrasher: An uninvited guest
Gasper: Cigarette
Gat: Gun
Get a Wiggle On: To get a move on, to get going
Get Sore: Get mad
Getaway Sticks: Legs
Giggle Juice: Liquor
Giggle Water: Liquor
Gin Mill: An establishment where hard liquor is sold, a bar, a speakeasy
Glad rags: Fancy clothes
Glaum: Steal
Gnat’s Whistle: An extraordinary person, thing or idea. Also: bees knees, elephant’s ears, eel’s hips
Go chase yourself: “Get out of here!”
Go see a man about a dog: To leave to do something secretive/private (like buy liquor or go to the bathroom)
Goofy: Crazy
Gold Digger: A woman who associates with, or marries a man for his wealth
Goog: Black eye
Goon: Thug
Gooseberry Lay: Stealing clothes from a clothesline
Goofy: In love
Gowed-up: High, Strung-out on dope
Grab Air: Put your hands up
Graft: Con jobs, or a cut of the take from a heist
Grand: One thousand dollars
Grift: Confidence game, swindle
Grifter: Con man
Grilled: Questioned
Gumshoe: Detective
Gumshoeing: Detective work
Gun for: Look for, go after
Guns: Pickpockets or hoodlums
Guy: A man

Hack: Taxi
Hair of the Dog: A shot of alcohol following a night of heavy drinking
Half: Fifty cents
Half-Seas Over: Extremely drunk
Handcuff: An engagement ring
Hard: Tough
Hard Boiled: A tough, strong guy
Harlem Sunset: A fatal injury (usually caused by knife)
Hash House: A cheap restaurant
Hatchet Men: Killers, gunmen
Have the Bees: To be rich
Hay-burner: (1) a gas guzzling car (2) a race horse that doesn’t live up to expectations
Head doctors: Psychiatrists
Heap: Old car
Heat: Police
Heater: Gun
Heavy Sugar: A lot of money
Heebie-Jeebies: The jitters.
Heeled: Carrying a gun
Heeler: A poor dancer
High-Hat: To snub.
High Pillow: Person at the top, in charge
Highbinders: Corrupt politician or functionary
Hinky: Suspicious
Hitting the Pipe: Smoking opium
Hit on All Sixes: Performing at one hundred percent (refers to a six-cylinder engine)
Hitting on All Eight: Performing at one hundred percent (refers to an eight-cylinder engine)
Hoary-Eyed: Drunk
Hock Shop: Pawnshop
Hogs: Engines
Hombre: Man, fellow
Hooch: Liquor
Hood: Criminal
Hoofer: Dancer
Hoosegow: Jail
Hooey: Baloney, nonsense
Hopped Up: Under the influence of drugs
Horn: Telephone
Horsefeathers: An expletive, similar to darn-it or applesauce
Horse Linament: Homemade liquor
Hot: Stolen
Hot Dawg!: Terrific! Alternatively – Hot socks!”
Hot Sketch: A joker or cut-up
Hotsy-Totsy: Sexy woman
House Dick: Hotel detective
House Peeper: Hotel detective
Hype: Shortchange artist
Ice: Diamonds
Icy Mitt: Rejection from the object of one’s affection, as in: “He got the icy mitt.”
Indian Hop: Marijuana
Ing-bing: To throw a fit
Insured: Engaged
Iron: A motorcycle
Iron one’s shoelaces: Need to go to the bathroom
It: Sex appeal
Jack: Money
Jake: Everything is all right, just fine
Jalopy: An old car.
Jam: Trouble, a tight spot
Jane: A woman
Java: Coffee
Jaw: Talk
Jazzed: High or Drunk
Jeepers Creepers: Expletive like “Oh my gosh”
Jingle-brained: Addled thinking, behaving like a moron
Jitney: A private car used as a taxi
Jobbie: Man
Joe: Coffee, as in: “Let’s grab a cup of joe.”
John: A toilet
Johnson Brother: Any criminal
Joint: A business establishment/nightclub (usually served alcohol)
Jorum of Skee: To take a big swig of hard liquor
Juice: Interest on money borrowed from a loan shark
Juice Joint: A speakeasy
Jug: Jail
Junk: Opium

Kale: Money
Keen: Attractive or appealing.
Kick Off: Die
Killjoy: A solemn or negative person
Kisser: Mouth
Kitten: Woman
Knock Off: Kill
Know Your Onions: To know a given subject matter, to know what’s going on
Lammed Off: Ran away, escaped
Large: One thousand dollars (twenty large would be $20,000)
Law: The police
Lay Off: Stop it, knock it off
Lead: Bullets, as in: “I’ll fill you full of lead!”
Lead Poisoning: To be shot
Left Holding the Bag – (1) Scapegoat (2) to be blamed for something
Let’s blouse!: “Let’s get out of here!”
Lettuce: Folding money
Level With Me: Be honest
Lid: Hat
Line: Insincere flattery, a false story, as in: “He fed her a line.”
Lip: A criminal attorney/mob lawyer
Lit: Drunk
Live Wire: A fun, lively person
Looker: Pretty woman
Look-out: A person who watches-out for the police
Lollygagger: An idle or lazy person
Lounge Lizard: A guy who beds many women without commitment
Lousy With: To have lots of a thing
M: Morphine
Mac: A man
Made: Recognized/discovered when trying to stay concealed
Manacle: Wedding ring
Map: Face
Marbles: Pearls
Mark: Sucker or victim of swindle or fixed game
Maroon: A person marked as an easy target for a con, a gullible person.
Mazuma: Dollar bills, cash, money
Meat Wagon: An ambulance
Mickey Finn: A drink spiked with knock-out drugs
Middle Aisle: To marry (refers to walking down the aisle in church between the pews)
Mill: Typewriter
Milquetoast: A timid person (refers to the comic book character Casper Milquetoast – a hen-pecked man)
Mind your potatoes: Mind your own business
Mind your Ps and Qs: Watch your manners
Mitt: Hand
Mob: Gang (not necessarily Mafia)
Mohaska: Gun
Moll: A gangster’s girl
Monicker: Name
Moonshine: homemade whiskey
Mop: a handkerchief
Mouthpiece: Lawyer
Mrs. Grundy – A priggish or extremely tight-laced person
Mugs: Men (especially refers to dumb ones)
Mulligan: Irish cop
Munitions: face powder
Nailed: Caught by the police
Neck – Kissing with passion
Nevada Gas: Cyanide (refers to Nevada using it to carry out a death penalty rather than hanging)
News Hawk: Reporter
Newsie: Newspaper vendor
Nibble One:To have a drink
Nicked: Stole
Nifty – great, excellent
Nippers: Handcuffs
Nobody Home – Describes someone who is dumb
Noodle: Head
Noodle juice: tea
Nookie: sex
Number: A person, or knowing a person’s specific situation, as in: “He’s got your number.”
Off One’s Nut: Crazy
Off the Track/Rails: (Also Jumped the Track) Someone who becomes insanely violent or unhinged
Oilcan: A dull, boring or disappointing date or party-goer (Same as pill, pickle, drag, rag, flat tire)
Okeydokey: (Also Okey-dokey) All right, No problem
Old Boy: (Also Old Man) term of address, used in conversations between men
Oliver Twist: An extremely good dancer
On the Lam: Fleeing/hiding from police
On the Level: Legitimate or honest person/statement (same as On the up and up)
On the Nest: Pregnant
On the Nut: To be broke, have no money
On a Toot: On a drinking bender
On the Trolley – To finally understand or learn something, as in: “Now you’re on the trolley!”
On the Up and Up – Legitimate or honest person/statement (same as On the level)
Op: Private detective, as in: “She hired an op to spy on her husband.” (refers to having an operator’s license)
Orchid: Any expensive item
Orphan Paper: Bad checks
Ossified: Drunk
Out On the Roof: To be drunk, as in: “He’s always out on the roof.”
Owl: A person who stays out late or keeps late hours
Owled: Drunk
Oyster Fruits: Pearls

Packing Heat: Carrying a gun
Pal: A male friend, or a term for a man whose name you do not know
Palooka: (1) dumb (2) below-average boxer (2) a social misfit (refers to the comic strip character Joe Palooka)
Pan: Face
Panther Piss: Poor quality liquor (usually homemade or rot-gut liquor)
Paste: Punch
Patsy: Person who is set up to take the blame for a crime, a fool or chump
Paw: Hand
Peaching: Informing or snitching on someone
Peeper: Private detective (refers to their practice of spying on people through windows & keyholes)
Peepers: Eyes
Pen: Penitentiary, jail
Pet: Heavy necking/making-out
Peterman: A safecracker who uses nitroglycerin
Petting Pantry: A cinema or movie theatre (usually refers to the balcony – dark place where you can make-out)
Phonus balonus: Nonsense, baloney, or bulls**t
Pickle: A dull, boring or disappointing date or party-goer (Same as pill, drag, rag, oilcan or flat tire)
Piece: Gun
Piffle: Baloney
Pigeon/Stool-pigeon: Someone who informs/snitches on others
Piker: (1) A cheapskate (2) A coward
Pill: A dull, boring or disappointing teacher, date or party-goer (Same as pickle, drag, rag, oilcan or flat tire)
Pinch: To arrest or capture
Pins: Legs
Pipe: To see or notice something out of the ordinary
Pipe Down: Stop talking
Pipes: Throat
Plant: Someone on the scene but in hiding, to bury or produce false evidence
Plastered: Drunk
Plug: Shoot
Plugs: Average, mundane people
Poke: Bankroll, stake
Pop: To kill
Popped: Killed
Potted: Drunk
Primed: Drunk and spoiling for a fight
Private Dick: A private investigator or house detective
Pro Skirt: A prostitute
Puffing: Mugging
Pug: Pugilist, boxer, fighter
Pull a Daniel Boone: To upchuck
Pump: Heart
Pump Metal: Shoot bullets
Punch the Bag: Make small talk
Punk: Hood, thug
Pushover: A person easily convinced of something or easily seduced.
Puss: Face
Put down: Drink
Put the Screws On: To get tough with questioning (refers to thumb screws – an ancient method of torture)
Putting on the Ritz – Doing something in high style (refers to upscale Ritz-Carleton Hotels)
Quiff: A slut or cheap prostitute
Quilt: An alcoholic beverage that keeps you warm

Rag: A dull, boring or disappointing date or party-goer (Same as pill, pickle, drag, oilcan or flat tire)
Rags: Clothes
Rag-a-muffin: A dirty or disheveled person
Rhatz: 1) A expletive to demonstrate disappointment, as in “Oh Rhatz” 2) A flapper
Raining Pitchforks: A downpour
Ranked: Observed, watched, given the once-over
Rap: A criminal charge
Rappers: Fakes, set-ups
Rat: To inform/snitch
Rate: To be good, to count for something, as in: “You really rate in this town!”
Rats & Mice: The dice game Craps
Rattler: Train
Razz: To make fun of
Real McCoy: 1) A real/genuine item of value 2) A person who doesn’t put on airs
Red-light: To bodily eject someone from a car or train
Redhot: A violent criminal
Reefers: Marijuana cigarettes
Reuben: A hick or redneck
Raspberry: A loud spluttering noise, used to indicate disapproval. Also: Bronx Cheer
Rhino: Money
Ringers: Fakes
Ritzy: Elegant (refers to upscale Ritz-Carleton Hotels)
Rod: Gun
Rope Dance: To be hanged
Roscoe: Gun
Rotgut: Homemade liquor; often dangerous because lax fermentation processes generate poisonous methanol
Round Heeled Girl: A prostitute or girl with easy morals (refers to rolling on her back easily)
Rub: A dance/party for high school or college students
Rub-out: Kill
Rube: Bumpkin, an easy mark
Rubes: 1) Money or dollars 2) Easy marks
Rumble: The news, as in: “Have you heard the rumble?”
Rummy: A drunken bum
Sap: A dumb guy
Sap Poison: Getting stuck with a sap who was pawned off on you by someone else
Savvy: Get me? Understand?
Sawbuck: A ten dollar bill (a double sawbuck is a $20 bill)
Says You: A reaction of disbelief
Schnoz/Schnozzle: Nose
Scram Out: Leave or ask someone to leave immediately
Scratch: Money
Scratcher: A forger
Screaming Meemies: The shakes (in the aftermath of a drinking binge or after drinking rot-gut liquor)
Scrooched: Drunk
Send Over: Send to jail
Shamus: A private detective
Sharper: A swindler or sneaky person
Sheba: 1) A woman with sex appeal (refers to the movie Queen of Sheba) 2) One’s girlfriend
Sheik: A man with sex appeal (refers to the movies of leading man Rudolph Valentino)
Shells: Bullets
Shill: A person who lures a mark into a con or card game
Shiv: A knife or homemade weapon used to stab or cut
Shylock: Loan shark, money lender (not bank)
Shyster: Criminal attorney or ambulance-chasing lawyer
Sing: Make a confession
Sinker: A doughnut
Simolean: One dollar
Sister: Woman
Sitting Pretty: In a prime position
Skate Around: 1) To date/make out with several people 2) To evade a bill collector or landlord
Skid Rogue: A bum who can’t be trusted
Skirt: Woman
Slant: To take a look, gain a perspective, as in: “Let me get a slant on how they pulled off the heist.”
Sleuth: A detective or a private detective
Slug: A bullet or to knock someone unconscious
Smarty: A cute flapper
Smoked: Drunk
Smoke-eater: A smoker
Smudger: Someone who likes to dance close (refers to men who smudge your make-up)
Snap a Cap: Shout
Snatch: Kidnap
Sneeze: To take something that doesn’t belong to you
Snitch: An informant, or to inform on someone
Snooper: Detective or private detective
Snort: Drink a shot of liquor
Soak: To pawn
Sock: Punch
Sockdollager: An event/action of great importance/significance, as in: “The Chicago fire was a sockdollager!”
Soup: Nitroglycerine
Soup Job: To crack a safe using nitroglycerine
Speakeasy: An illegal establishment that sells bootlegged liquor
Spiffy: Looking elegant
Spill: To tell someone everything you know about a given situation
Spifflicated: Extremely drunk; ready to pass out. Same as corked, tanked or zozzled
Spiffy: An elegant appearance
Spill/Spill Your Guts: Tell what you know (usually to the authorities)
Spinach: Money
Spitting: Talking
Spoon: Necking, cuddling or love-talk
Static: (1) empty talk (2) conflicting opinion
Stilts: Legs
Square: Honest, upstanding, as in: “Let me be square with you, pal.”
Squeeze: A female companion, date or girlfriend.
Squirt Metal: Shoot bullets
Step off: To be hanged
Stiff: A corpse
Sting: Culmination of a successful con, whether it was set-up by criminals or the police
Stool-pigeon: Informer or snitch
Stoolie: Same as stool-pigeon – an informer or snitch
Struggle Buggy: The backseat of a car, where necking/petting can take place
Stuck On: Have a crush on
Sucker: An easy mark for a con artist
Sugar: Money
Swanky: Elegant (usually refers to an establishment)
Swell: 1) A wonderful person 2) A rich man

Tail: Shadow or follow someone undetected
Take a Powder: Leave
Take On: To eat
Take for a Ride: Drive someone to a remote location to kill them
Take the Air: Leave
Take or Get a Bounce: To get kicked out of an establishment
Take the Fall: Accept blame/punishment for a crime someone else committed or helped commit
Tanked: Extremely drunk. Same as corked, spifflicated or zozzled
Tasty: Appealing person or well-built individual
Tell It to Sweeney: An expletive when don’t believe something, as in: “Sure he did – tell it to Sweeney!”
That’s the Crop: 1) The last serving/portion of something 2) That’s the whole story
Three-spot: A three-year jail sentence (Also: Five-spot, Ten-spot or Lifetime-spot)
Throw Lead: Shoot bullets
Ticket: A Private Investigator’s (P.I.) operating license
Tiger Milk: Strong liquor
Tighten the Screws: Put pressure on somebody to comply with a demand
Tin: Policeman or Detective’s badge
Tin Pan Alley: A part of New York (between 48th & 52nd Streets) where loads of legendary music was written
Tip a Few: Have a few drinks
Tomato: Pretty woman
Tooting the Wrong Ringer: Asking a question of the wrong person (refers to dialing the wrong phone number)
Torpedo: A hired gunman
Trap: Mouth
Trigger Man: Hired gunman
Trip for Biscuits: A wild goose chase
Trouble Boys: Gangsters
Twist: Woman (refers to the way a woman’s hips sway when she walks)
Two Bits: A quarter (refers to old money, which was issued in bits of silver)
Under Glass: In jail
Upchuck – To vomit after drinking too much
Upstage: 1) Act arrogant or snobby 2) Overshadow the accomplishments of another

Vamp: 1) an extremely sexy woman 2) A seductress or aggressive flirt (2) femme fatal
Voot: Money
Waterproof Face: A woman’s face that’s so naturally pretty, it doesn’t require make-up
Weak Sister: A push-over, a person who is easy to persuade or manipulate
Wear Iron: To carry a gun
Wet Blanket: An overly solemn person, a killjoy
What’s Eating You: What’s the matter? or What’s bothering you?
White Lightning: Bathtub gin, homemade liquor
Whoopee: To have a good time; as in “Making whoopee”
Wise Head: A smart person
Wooden Kimono: A coffin
Wop: A derogatory term for Italians
Worker: A woman who uses her charms to persuade a man to spend his money on her, as in: “She’s a worker.”
Wrong Gee: Not a good fellow
Wrong number: To make a bad choice, or trust the wrong person
Wurp: Same as a wet blanket – An overly solemn person, a killjoy
Ya Follow?: Do you understand what I’m saying?
Yap: Mouth
Yard: One Hundred Dollars (Large Yard = One Thousand Dollars)
Yegg: An unskilled safecracker (can only open cheap/easy safes)
You slay Me: You’re really funny
Zozzled: Extremely drunk; ready to pass out. Same as corked, spifflicated or zozzled
Zotzed: Killed