A Cat’s Meow

In college, I wasn’t particularly fond of linguistics. Although I gladly admit, sociolinguistics was an exception. I really loved comparing cultural influences on language and vice versa. Politeness was my favorite topic and it still amazes me how perceptions differ even in the same language area. My second favorite topic has always been American slang. Today, I’m not particularly up-to-date and an excessive usage of words such as epic and awesome tickles my risble muscles. Like as a filler word on the other hand drives me up the walls. What I prefer is slang from bygone eras, from the 1930s through 50s to be exact. Words, abbreviations, euphemisms – they are my secret vice. Here’s a list of my favorite expressions and their meaning. You may be surprised how many words date back to the era of Jazz, screwball and noir.


  • Blow your wig – become very excited
  • Blinkers, peepers – eyes
  • smooth, sweet, swell – very good
  • Cats or alligators – fans of swing music
  • Curve – disappointment
  • Cute as a bug’s ear – very cute
  • Dead hoofer or cement mixer – bad dancer
  • Dick, shamus, gumshoe, flatfoot – detective
  • Dig – think hard or understand
  • Dollface – name for a woman when a man is pleading his case or apologizing
  • Hard boiled – tough
  • Honey cooler – a kiss
  • Hop, rag, jolly up, romp, wingding – dance or party
  • Pill – disagreeable person
  • Scrub – poor student
  • Shake a leg – hurry up
  • Whacky – crazy
  • What’s your story, morning glory? – What do you mean by that?
  • You and me both – I agree

Do you want to learn more about slang from the 1930s? Check these two websites here and here.

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