Sunday, May 31, 2015

1930's Terminology and Shifting Language

In Statement Analysis, we recognize that race, gender, age, education and intelligence all impact language.  But "so doesn't region" , and so does time.  ("So isn't..." was something I wasn't familiar with).

We are shifting paradigm to meet changing communication, including emails and text messages, working from new baselines.

"Say..." is probably my favorite expression from the 30's.

We might even need an interpreter for:  "Say, he's my kid brother, you heel.  You can't send me up the river for this!"
Early 30's terminology...some are still used but, say, did you ever see a good tomato while having a cup of joe just unwinding?
I took this list from a comical website who's talented writer comments on "pre code" movies; that is, early 30's movies where there was a code, but it was mostly ignored.  These "B" movies are still a lot of fun, with some of them quite clever.   

Can you think of any expressions to add to this list?

A clambake A boring or unsuccessful event
A pip Something wonderful; also, an attractive woman (or both)
Aces The best
All wet Incompetent
And how! “Definitely!”
Bad egg Not a nice guy
Be yourself! Behave, stop being silly
Beat it/take a powder To leave in a hurry
Beat the rap To escape punishment for a crime
Beau Boyfriend
Beef To complain
Beezer Nose
Big noise A blowhard
Bird A guy
Blue Sad, depressed
Bozo Fool, idiot
Bright Intelligent
Bub Term of address to a man
Bunco To con or trick
Bunk Nonsense, bullshit
Bury the hatchet To settle an argument
Bust A miserable failure
Cad A cruel person
Can ya beat that? “Well, I’ll be damned!”
Card An eccentric character
Chassis Body
Chicken An attractive young woman (later shortened to “chick”)
Chiseler A con artist or dishonest person
Chum Friend
Chump A gullible idiot
Cinch Something easy to do
Cut in To interrupt or disrupt
Cut it! “Stop it right now!”
Dame A woman
Dandy Wonderful
Darb Something excellent or wonderful
Darn tootin’ “Damn right!”
Dish An attractive woman
Doggone Euphemism for “goddamned”
Dogs Feet
Don’t I know that? “I’m aware of that, you idiot!”
Don’t make me laugh! “That’s ridiculous!”
Don’t take any wooden nickels “Don’t do anything stupid”
Dope An idiot
Double-cross To cheat or betray
Dough Money
Ducky Delightful
Dumb cluck A foolish or idiotic person [also a euphemism for ‘dumb fuck’]
Egg A guy
Fella A guy
For the love of Mike! “For God’s sake!”
Four-flusher A cheat or liar
Fresh Impudent, or smartaleck
From hunger Mediocre, awful (often prefaced with “strictly”)
Gams A woman’s legs
Get a load of this! “Check this out! Watch this!”
Get the lead out Get to work, get on with it!
Gigolo Male prostitute- colloquially, a ladies’ man
Glad rags Fancy clothes
Good egg A nice guy
Grand Wonderful, excellent
Green Naive
Heel/pill A jerk
Hokum Insincere nonsense
Hooch Alcohol
Hooey/baloney Nonsense
Hot dog! “Wow!”
Hunky-dory/hotsy-totsy Wonderful
I go for you “I’ve got a crush on you”
I know it “I’m aware”
I smell a rat “Something very suspicious is going on here”
I’ll be seein’ ya “See you later”
I’ll fix it for you “I’ll arrange it for you”
I’ll put a stop to that “I’ll solve that problem”
I’ll tell the world! “I agree with you!”
I’m from Missouri “Prove it!”
I’m wise “I understand”, “I’m aware of what’s going on here”
In a big way Very much so
In a pig’s eye “Like hell!”
In the groove On a roll
In the pink Healthy
In wrong To have a bad reputation with someone, often mistakenly
In your hat! Short for “Go shit in your hat!”, equivalent to “Shove it up your ass!”
Is my face red! “I’m so embarrassed!”
It was this way “This is what happened”, prefacing an explanation
It’s all over but the shouting “It’s practically done!”
It’s good for what ails you “It’ll make you feel better”
It’s in the bag It’s all taken care of, it’s a sure thing
I’ve got a T.L. for you “There’s something you should know”
Jake Good, fine
Jane Girl
Joint Place, building or house
K.O. Variation of “OK”
Keep your shirt on! “Be patient!”
Lay off To leave alone
Louse A contemptible person
Make it snappy! “Hurry up!”
Mug Face; or a crude disreputable person
Mum’s the word “It’s a secret.”
My big moment Potential boyfriend or girlfriend
Nertz! “The hell with it!”
Nix “Stop!”, “Don’t do that!”
Number A song
Oh yeah? “I don’t believe you”
Old maid A spinster
On the bum Defective or mediocre
On the level Honest, sincere
On the make Looking for sex
On the spot In a difficult situation
Out of this world Amazing
Palooka A stupid or crude person
Pan/puss/map Face
Phony Artificial, insincere, or hypocritical
Piker Cheapskate
Pipe down! “Be quiet!”
Plenty A lot, or to a great extent
Punk Awful
Quit yerkiddin’!/clowning “Stop joking around!”
Racket A fraudulent business
Riding for a fall Asking for trouble
Rub out To murder
Sap/dunce A fool or idiot
Say! “Listen!”, “Wait a minute!”
Says you! “I disagree!”, “I don’t believe you!”
Scram! “Get out of here!”
Screwball A crazy or eccentric person
See? “Understand?”
Sitting pretty Carefree
So help me! “I mean it!”
Sore Angry
So’s your old man! “To hell with you!”
Sowing wild oats To behave recklessly
Sucker A gullible or naive person
Swell Excellent, wonderful, great
Take a shine to To like
Take the rap To accept blame
That ain’t hay “That’s a lot of money!”
That lets me out “I would be of no help whatsoever to you in that situation”
That’s a hot one! “Bullshit!”
The berries Wonderful
The low-down Gossip
There are no flies on you! “You know what you’re doing!”
Through Finished, or fired
Tickled pink Extremely pleased
To be off one’s nut To act in an insane or eccentric way
To be on the lam To have escaped from prison or the police
To be stuck on To have a crush on
To be true to To be monogamous and faithful
To blow one’s top To lose one’s temper
To buffalo To confuse or deceive
To call it square/square oneself To deal with someone fairly and make things even
To do things up brown To do an excellent job
To get one’s goat To frustrate or anger
To give one a tumble To pay attention to, give one a fair chance, or to engage in physical intimacy
To give one the air To contemptuously ignore or mistreat
To give one the runaround To be evasive
To give one the slip To evade or escape from
To go to town/to paint the town red To party, have a good time
To gum the works To screw up or ruin something
To have a bun on To be drunk
To jilt To leave or reject one’s lover
To know one’s onions To be knowledgeable and confident
To lay an egg To fail
To lick To defeat, or beat up
To make a bum out of To belittle or cause to appear foolish
To make it hot for one To cause trouble
To neck To make out
To pan To denigrate or belittle
To pinch To arrest
To pitch woo To make out
To railroad To con
To rate To deserve
To rib To playfully make fun of
To ride To ridicule or make fun of
To salt away To save in storage
To savvy To comprehend
To settle someone’s hash To silence someone
To slip one a mickey To poison one’s drink
To sock To punch
To spill the beans To reveal a secret
To spoon To kiss
To turn turtle To overturn or change around
Tomato An attractive young woman
Toots Term of address to a woman
Washed up A complete failure
Well-heeled Rich
Wet blanket A spoilsport
Whadaya know about that? “That’s a surprise to me!”
What of it? “What’s your point?”
What’s eatin’ you? “What’s bothering you?”
What’s the [big] idea? “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Whoopee! Exclamation of joy or euphemism for physical intimacy
Wouldn’t you like to know? “I’m not telling!”
Yellow Cowardly
Yen Desire
You ain’t just whistling Dixie! “You’re not kidding!”
You bet! “I agree with you!”
You don’t know the half of it “You can’t imagine how bad it really is!”
You don’t say! “Really?!”
You said it! “You’re absolutely right!”
You want to make something out of it? “Are you trying to start a fight?”
You’re telling me! “You’re not kidding!”
You’ve got me all wrong “You misunderstand me!”


Unknown said...

It really is funny to think about how some of these phrases would sound to someone learning the language, or someone 200 years from now.

My Papaw always called me Jake, and when I was little he made me Christmas ornaments, and other trinkets with "Jake" engraved on them. It was only his nickname for me, and the rest of my family called me Jen. I never knew what it meant!

John Mc Gowan said...


Springfield police search for missing boy, 8,

The Springfield Police Department is searching for a missing and possibly endangered child.

8-year-old Randy J.S. Marney is an autistic white male who is believed to have wandered from his home in the 1700 block of W. Olive Sunday morning. Randy is 3 feet 6 inches tall, 82 pounds with blond buzz-cut hair and blue eyes, and he has a speech impediment. He is possibly wearing black shorts and a long, white t-shirt.

He was last seen at 5 a.m. by another resident of the home. At approximately 9:40 a.m., Randy’s parents woke to find the front door open and Randy missing from the home. The front door had previously been locked.

Police have called in a K-9 officer and are going door to door in their search.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the Springfield Police Department at 417-864-1810.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


Heather and I chuckle each time, "say" is used, and sometimes have a bit of fun deliberately weaving 30's expressions into our speech.

I've done it a few times at seminars to see if anyone would catch it.

Not yet.


Anonymous said...

ABC News reported that Caitlin's former owners, a couple who remains anonymous, sold Caitlin for $10 on Memorial Day, two days before she was found with her mouth bound up in tape.

The couple told ABC that they had to give the dog away because she was energetic and destructive, and they feared eviction, but they are aghast at the result.

"Don't let me find you," one of the former owners reportedly said of the person who taped Caitlin's mouth shut. "That's all I can say, don't let me find you because that's part of my family you just did some foul things to."

The former owners told the station that they found Caitlin outside their home on Wednesday morning, and asked a neighbor to call the police. They reportedly also gave police a description of the person who bought their dog.

"that's all I can say"

They asked a neighbor to call the police.

They considered the dog part of their family but sold it for $10 and didn't even get the guy's name.

Anonymous said...

Over the week-end I have read news reports of this pathetic story happening in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Same story, same photo, same dog, except for the one in Georgia where it describes the person as being a black man who taped up the dogs mouth as being the roommate of the person the dog belonged too. This cruelty obviously did happen somewhere, but where?

Anonymous said...

I find many of the old once famous movies on Turner boring and dull. Not even good acting with their ridiculous old sayings and long sidelong glances and romantic silence. Many of the actors like Frank Sanatra, Dean Martin and most of the female actors over-act as if they were auditioning for their next movie.

I look at them and wonder how they ever became actors, even the well-known famous ones of their day were not really all that talented. Jimmy Stewart, all uv em, except maybe Clark Gable and a few others; who told them they had all this talent? I sure don't see it. They must have been in the right place at the right time, wearing the right clothes with the right connections.

A lot of the old popular music of the day sucks too. I just want to yell at them, 'oh please, get on with it, wouldcha?' The Tommy Dorsey band and all those oldie goldies of the big band era drag on and on and on. Makes me wanna scream. How did we ever stand listening to it? But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

BTW, one of those stories described the dog as being a stray dog. If IRC, it was the story in South Carolina.

Wherever it happened, the dog is pathetic, hard to look at. Very sad. Animal cruelty at its' worst. I hope the poor thing doesn't lose his tongue.

Tania Cadogan said...

Some of those phrases are still heard today in the UK although one or two have changed gender :D

A Bird: theses days is used by men to describe a pretty woman though not as prevalent as in the 70's 80's - How's your bird these days?

Chassis often heard when jokingly describing the singer Shirley Bassey aka Burly Chassis

Chicken - these days means coward.

Cut it - though we say here cut it out.

Dandy - someone male finely dresed - looking fine and dandy from the olden days.

Dish - here refers to a good looking male, he is dishy. this was heard a lot in teens in the 70's 80's and still pops up on occasion

green - naive or novice such as greenhorn

Hunky dory - everything is OK

I’ll put a stop to that _ i will end whatever it is usually someone being naughty or bad

K.O - knockout someone

Keep your shirt on! - a demand/request for someone to calm down

Mug- someone gullible

My big moment - taking centre centre stage/ the centre of attention

On the make - greedy, looking for profit, someone dubious offering something dodgy

Racket - noisy . Quit making that racket oft shouted by moms to their kids or noisy people in the street at godawful am by people trying to sleep :)

Sowing wild oats - getting around sexually before settling down to married life - applies to young men.

To railroad - to force someone into doing something in great haste.

To spoon - a bit more than a kiss :) , it's a sexual position.

WE all speak the same language yet at the same time we don't, which is why certain Americanisms cause such hilarity amongst us Brits

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Anonymous said...
I find many of the old once famous movies on Turner boring and dull. Not even good acting with their ridiculous old sayings and long sidelong glances and romantic silence. Many of the actors like Frank Sanatra, Dean Martin and most of the female actors over-act as if they were auditioning for their next movie.

I look at them and wonder how they ever became actors, even the well-known famous ones of their day were not really all that talented. Jimmy Stewart, all uv em, except maybe Clark Gable and a few others; who told them they had all this talent? I sure don't see it. They must have been in the right place at the right time, wearing the right clothes with the right connections.

A lot of the old popular music of the day sucks too. I just want to yell at them, 'oh please, get on with it, wouldcha?' The Tommy Dorsey band and all those oldie goldies of the big band era drag on and on and on. Makes me wanna scream. How did we ever stand listening to it? But that's just me.
June 1, 2015 at 6:47 AM

You're targeting movies in the 50's.

I couldn't agree more.

By then, the magic of Hollywood was gone, in large measure.

As to clever dialogue,try to keep up with:

The Philadelphia Story

1940's Pride and Prejudice with Greer Garson.

As to film making, does anything rival Gone With The Wind?

Of modern films, I think only The Godfather comes close to GWTW or Casblanca.

The 50's began the downward spiral in fashion, too.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


I heard Paul McCartney talk about the 60's and "chasing birds" while looking back.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Not that I wish to argue with Anonymous, but, I will.

The movies from the 1930's to the late 40's came, predominantly, from book reading. This means that the dialogs are snappy, intelligent, and warrant careful listening.

The movies from today are not from classic books, but sometimes even from video games.

The writers and producers of yesteryear were schooled in high school on the classics, Latin, etc.

The writers today are those who played video games.

Today, (I stole this from Heather), the star of any given movie is "Immorality" and all the other roles are supportive.

The depression era movies were "feel good" movies because of the Great Depression was...depressing. They elevated us, even while not denying the messiness of life. Movies provided an escape, my parents told me, from such horrible times as "soup lines in Brooklyn" that left them scarred.

Today, writers frequently ignore history, re-write it to fit political correctness and have such over-the-top humor that little thought is required. It's become so politically correct that even mysteries are easy to solve by just eliminating the obvious PC characters.

I look at the 50's and 60's era as the Hollywood "hangover" era, where much was "phoned in", rather than elevated art form. It was the beginning of a decline. The magic of the 30's culminated in the most empirical year: 1939! Even the B movies of 39 are fun to watch.

There are always exceptions as these are general thoughts only. Every so often a good movie comes out. Just because I cannot think of one right now doesn't make it so. But how much "bathroom humor" can one take and not stay perpetually as a teenager? Cary Grant or Adam Sandler? I cannot go to a movie with my 15 year old daughter, today. It is just too much. Nothing is private, nothing is sacred; remember, "obscene" means "off stage", that is, what went on privately. We have no mystery, no romance, just crude biological itches being scratched without emotional commitment.

This is not to say that immorality did not exist in the 30's; it did, but it was not glorified as it was in the 70's, and on downward.

Today, the game of "How do we shock an audience?" seems to have no rules or barriers.

Imagine if a hit show like, "The Office" had toned it way down to make it so that the audience must think to discern the humor? Imagine the main character, Michael Scott, being a narcissist but instead of being out there,he, like a true narcissist, tries to masquerade it, just a bit? The British were far better at under-stated comedy. The 1940 Pride and Prejudice has insult after insult with one of my favorite actresses, Edna May Oliver, who shines. How does one take his eyes off of Greer Garson's cheekbones?

Having said that, I don't see the brilliance in The Three Stooges, which was shown to us in school, during rainy days. It is great for kids but....

The musical scores of these old movies are often complex and brilliant.

"The Women", a movie made with no men, never grows old.

I find particular enjoyment challenging my kids to follow pithy dialog knowing full well that they will be hooked.

For all of Jim Carrey's talent, how many times can one laugh at him passing gas?

The most recent movie I saw was "American Sniper." I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Muslim students were using Islamophobia to get colleges to cancel it, and Obama's snubbing of the funeral got my attention. Perhaps it was the hype set me up for the inevitable, but I didn't enjoy it.

I saw the tank movie, was awful. I'm trying to think of other modern movies, but I have not seen many.

Oh, here is one: Gladiator. That was well made and had some brilliant acting.

Tania Cadogan said...

Hi Peter, some words hang around in certain areas, the meaning staying the same like cockney or scouse or glaswegian.
Others, the meaning changes depending on the age of the speaker, with teens reusing old time words.

We even have words crossing over from different languages and being adopted into the english language, particularly with teens, noticeably in areas with a large multicultural society such as Hinglish

We had a tv show called Goodness Gracious Me.
it was a series of sketches performed by 2 male and 2 female indian people, catchphrases included kiss my chuddies (To place your lips in a puckered fashion on ones underpants. Generaly reserved for situations involving male underware.)

Teens and children are usually the first to include and adopt new words and phrases whilst the rest of us go huh?

I loved the show as it was indians poking fun at everything indian , my favorite sketch though was when they took the mickey out of the brits and indian restaurants and had them going out for an english

If a word sounds funny or strikes a chord by encompassing a meaning in only a word or two when before it took several, it is quickly adopted.
Even old words going back decades (sometimes centuries) will reappear, perhaps with a slightly changed meaning.

Lisa21222 said...



a female. Usually, but not always, used in reference to an attractive female. Origin: British.

I had never heard this term used to refer to a man.

BallBounces said...

Spill the beans.
Spill it.

Tell the truth, reveal, talk.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Does anyone know what a

"one, two , tree girl" is?


Anonymous said...

My husband calls old ladies, "old birds"...and he will a call a group of loud cackling women, "a bunch of chickens".


Tania Cadogan said...

strangely enough i get call hen a lot by older scottish people, it is a term of endearment eg, are you ok hen?

Anonymous said...

Mornin' Peter:

I agree with both your posts of yesterday wherein you were responding to my comments about finding the old movies and music of a bygone era so boring and talentless for the most part. Gags me out.

I enjoyed your second post given in great detail; only, I have not seen most of the movies you referred too. You see, while I have little patience with the oldie goldie c'rap movies, stale lagging talent and music of yesteryear, I also do not care for fake action movies, sifi and psychic ghost stories that are not real but tend to 'play on the mind' or loud banging clanging rap music that sets my last raw nerve on edge. Yikes!

SOOOo, I am not a good one to create an argument with on your choices of movies and music. Many of those you mentioned I clicked right on by just based on the suggestive names of them and because of this I probably missed out on some good movies. Based on your recommendations, maybe I'll go back and view some of them on Netflix. As to my taste in music, most of it goes back to the Woodstock era. Now, THAT was real music. Few popular artists since can measure up to many of those.

Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end. We loved our short skirts, our long hair blowing in the breeze, dancing and swaying in the streets and fighting for our rights and the rights of others. We didn't mind the media exposing us either. We were sober too, not stoned out on pot or anything else. Just loving life and doing our thing and not afraid to speak up. By golly, we won too. Yeah, me too. I played my part in civil rights causes. Many today have rights that I personally fought hard for and helped to win. Does this surprise you? It probably does.

I enjoy your posts, you are truly a brilliant man; you could do SO SOOoo much more than you are doing, which makes me want to reach through this screen and shake some sense into you. But alas.... there you sit sticking with it when you could attain H.U.G.E. financial success without this milestone around your neck; too bad, you just don't see it but I do. Alls I can say is, carry on and God bless....

Statement Analysis Blog said...

I wonder...

if you read here long enough, your taste will change.

here is why....

as you become more and more enamored with words, you may want more clever, pithy and ultimately intelligent dialog.

I am not surprised about the civil rights info. There are so many "left over hippies" in social services that I have met that had such high ideals and have been in the business long enough to see generational enslavement to government. I admire their honesty even though they are personally hurt.

They wanted to make changes in people's lives, and have learned the best change they can make is to get the person to take personal responsibility and work really hard at something, anything, to get human nature out of the doldrums of despair.

I hope my movie rant wasn't too much. After I finished, I thought of more to add to the list of modern movies that I have enjoyed.

HBO's "The Pacific" was a good series (I read the book it was based upon)

Some of the full length Disney movies have become classics. Beauty and the Beast was terrific.

I think I was the only male in the movie theater when my little girl and I saw "Ya Ya Sisterhood."

Jokingly, I stood up and said aloud, "If there are any men here tonight, please, oh please, raise your hand!"

It got some laughs.



sss said...

I am in my 50's, and these words bring back lots of good memories of when I was little. Hunky dory, being called a pip by my dear uncle. I would add "boob;, it was a popular word for a fool or dimwit.

Thanks, all!