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A dictionary for the flapper flock



Carole Lombard is "The Campus Vamp" in a scene from that 1928 Mack Sennett short, using her wiles and sex appeal to wield power over just about every male student at that college. Was she a flapper? Most likely, but by that time flappers were nothing new.

They arrived on the scene at roughly the turn of the decade, at just about the time the Nineteenth Amendment gave women in all states the right to vote. An increasingly urbanized America was changing its mores, and the flapper character fit right in with the newfound feminine modernity.

By 1922, there was even a magazine dedicated to this new breed of womanhood, a Chicago-based publication appropriately called The Flapper:

the flapper june 1922

Labeled "Not For Old Fogies," the monthly magazine celebrated the flapper lifestyle. It apparently didn't last very long -- its first issue was dated May 1922, and I can't find one past November -- but it provides a fascinating glimpse into American youth culture of the time.

And, thanks to an April entry in the blog "Book flaps: Musings of a small-town book peddler" (http://bookflaps.blogspot.com/2011/04/flappers-dictionary.html), I discovered that the July 1922 issue of The Flapper featured something called the "Flapper's Dictionary," an array of terms to use in your crowd to emphasize that you indeed were not an old fogie. According to the anonymous author, "The flapper movement is not a craze, but something that will stay. Many of the phrases now employed by members of this order will eventually find a way into common usage and be accepted as good English.”



Here's the list of lingo; judge for yourself whether the author was right. And remember these phrases for your next Roaring '20s party or when you ride that time machine back to Prohibition days:
_________________________________________

Absent treatment -— Dancing with a bashful partner.

Airedale —- A homely man.

Alarm clock —- Chaperone.

Anchor —- Box of flowers.

Apple knocker —- A hick; a hay-shaker.

Apple sauce -- Flattery; bunk.

Barlow -— A girl, a flapper, a chicken.

Bank’s closed -— No petting allowed; no kisses.

Barneymugging -— Lovemaking.

Bee’s knees -— See “Cat’s pajamas.”

Bell polisher —- A young man addicted to lingering in vestibules at 1 a.m.

Bean picker -— One who patches up trouble and picks up spilled beans.

Berry patch -— A man’s particular interest in a girl.

Berries —- Great.

Biscuit —- A pettable flapper.

Big timer (n. masc.) -— A charmer able to convince his sweetie that a jollier thing would be to get a snack in an armchair lunchroom; a romantic.

Billboard -— Flashy man or woman.

Blushing violet -— A publicity hound.

Blouse —- To go.

Blow —- Wild party.

Blaah —- No good.

Boob tickler —- Girl who entertains father’s out-of-town customers.

Brush ape -— Anyone from the sticks; a country Jake.

Brooksy -— Classy dresser

Bust -— A man who makes his living in the prize ring, a pugilist.

Bun duster -— See “Cake eater.”

Bush hounds -— Rustics and others outside of the Flapper pale.

Cancelled stamp —- A wallflower.

Cake basket -— A limousine.

Cake eater -— See “Crumb gobbler.”

Cat’s particulars -— The acme of perfection; anything that’s good

Cat’s pajamas -— Anything that’s good

Cellar smeller -— A young man who always turns up where liquor is to be had without cost.

Clothesline -— One who tells neighborhood secrets.

Corn shredder -— Young man who dances on a girl’s feet.

Crepe hanger -— Reformer.

Crumb gobbler -— Slightly sissy tea hound.

Crasher -— Anyone who comes to parties uninvited.

Crashing party -— Party where several young men in a group go uninvited.

Cuddle cootie -— Young man who takes a girl for a ride on a bus, gas wagon or automobile.

Cuddler -— One who likes petting.

Dapper —- A flapper’s father.

Dewdropper -— Young man who does not work, and sleeps all day.

Dincher -— A half-smoked cigarette.

Dingle dangler -— One who insists on telephoning.

Dipe ducat —- A subway ticket.

Dimbox -— A taxicab.

Di Mi -— Goodness.

Dogs -— Feet.

Dog kennels -— Pair of shoes.

Dropping the pilot -— Getting a divorce.

Dumbdora —- Stupid girl.

Duck’s quack -— The best thing ever.

Ducky —- General term of approbation.

Dud —- Wallflower.

Dudding up —- Dressing.

Dumbbell -- Wallflower with little brains.

Dumkuff —- General term for being “nutty” or “batty.”

Edisoned -— Being asked a lot of questions.

Egg harbor -— Free dance.

Embalmer -— A bootlegger.

Eye opener —- A marriage.

Father Time —- Any man over 30 years of age.

Face stretcher —- Old maid who tries to look younger.

Feathers -— Light conversation.

Fire extinguisher —- A chaperone.

Finale hopper —- Young man who arrives after everything is paid for.

Fire alarm —- Divorced woman.

Fire bell —- Married woman.

Flap -— Girl

Flat shoes -— Fight between a Flapper and her Goof

Fluky —- Funny, odd, peculiar; different.

Flatwheeler -— Slat shy of money; takes girls to free affairs.

Floorflusher —- Inveterate dance hound.

Flour lover -— Girl who powders too freely.

Forty-Niner -— Man who is prospecting for a rich wife.

Frog’s eyebrows —- Nice, fine.

Gander —- Process of duding up.

Green glorious —- Money and checks.

Gimlet -— A chronic bore.

Given the air —- When a girl or fellow is thrown down on a date.

Give your knee —- Cheek-to-cheek or toe-to-toe dancing.

Goofy -— To be in love with, or attracted to. Example: “I’m goofy about Jack.”

Goat’s whiskers -— See “Cat’s particulars.”

Goof -— Sweetie.

Grummy -— In the dumps, shades or blue.

Grubber -— One who always borrows cigarettes.

Handcuff -— Engagement ring.

Hen coop -— A beauty parlor.

His blue serge -— His sweetheart.

Highjohn -— Young man friend; sweetie, cutey, highboy.

Hopper -— Dancer.

Houdini —- To be on time for a date.

Horse prancer -— See “Corn shredder.”

Hush money -— Allowance from father.

Jane -— A girl who meets you on the stoop.

Johnnie Walker -— Guy who never hires a cab.

Kitten’s ankles -— See “Cat’s particulars.”

Kluck -— Dumb, but happy.

Lap -— Drink.

Lallygagger —- A young man addicted to attempts at hallway spooning.

Lens Louise -— A person given to monopolizing conversation.

Lemon squeezer -— An elevator.

Low lid —- The opposite of highbrow.

Mad money —- Carfare home if she has a fight with her escort.

Meringue -— Personality.

Monkey’s eyebrows —- See “Cat’s particulars.”

Monog -— A young person of either sex who is goofy about only one person at a time.

Monologist -— Young man who hates to talk about himself.

Mustard plaster —- Unwelcome guy who sticks around.

Munitions -— Face powder and rouge.

Mug —- To osculate or kiss.

Necker -— A petter who puts her arms around a boy’s neck.

Noodle juice -— Tea.

Nosebaggery -— Restaurant.

Nut cracker -— Policeman’s nightstick.

Obituary notice -— Dunning letter.

Oilcan —- An imposter.

Orchid —- Anything that is expensive.

Out on parole -— A person who has been divorced.

Petting pantry -— Movie.

Petting party -— A party devoted to hugging.

Petter —- A loveable person; one who enjoys to caress.

Pillow case -— Young man who is full of feathers.

Police dog -— Young man to whom one is engaged.

Potato -— A young man shy of brains.

Ritzy burg -— Not classy.

Ritz —- Stuck-up.

Rock of ages -— Any woman over 30 years of age.

Rug hopper —- Young man who never takes a girl out. A parlor hound.

Sap —- A flapper term for floorflusher.

Scandal —- A short term for scandal walk.

Scandaler —- A dance floor fullback. The interior of a dreadnaught hat, Piccadilly shoes with open plumbing, size 13.

Seetie -— Anybody a flapper hates.

Sharpshooter -— One who spends much and dances well.

Shifter -— Another species of flapper.

Show case -— Rich man’s wife with jewels.

Sip -— Flapper term for female Hopper.

Slat —- See “Highjohn”; “Goof.”

Slimp -— Cheapskate or “one way guy.”

Smith Brothers -— Guys who never cough up.

Smoke eater -— A girl cigarette user.

Smooth —- Guy who does not keep his word.

Snake —- To call a victim with vampire arms.

Snuggleup —- A man fond of petting and petting parties.

Sod buster -— An undertaker.

Stilts —- Legs.

Stander -— Victim of a female grafter.

Static —- Conversations that mean nothing.

Strike breaker -— A young woman who goes with her friend’s “steady” while there is a coolness.

Swan —- Glide gracefully.

Tomato -— A young woman shy of brains.

Trotzky (sic) -— Old lady with a moustache and chin whiskers.

Umbrella -— young man any girl can borrow for the evening.

Urban set —- Her new gown.

Walk in —- Young man who goes to a party without being invited.

Weasel —- Girl stealer.

Weed —- Flapper who takes risks.

Weeping willow -— See “Crepe hanger.”

Whangdoodle —- Jazz-band music.

Whiskbroom —- Any man who wears whiskers.

Wind sucker -— Any person given to boasting.

Wurp -— Killjoy or drawback.
_________________________________________



Interesting terms, doncha think? One wonders if Jane Alice Peters was using any of the terms while at Virgil Junior High School in '22, or if a few years later the renamed Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford and company said such lingo while dancing at the Cocoanut Grove at the Hotel Ambassador in 1925.

We can guess the teenage Lombard steered clear of any potential "smooth" or "potato," made sure to stock up on "munitions" before enjoying any "whangdoodle," and enjoyed being a "sip" while showing off her "stilts."

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