During the Roaring 20s of the last century, young ladies took on a new, and for the time radical, lifestyle. These were the years following World War I and prior to The Great Depression. It was the jazz age and the ladies were taking full advantage in daring new ways. Illegal bootleg hooch was all the rage, with hide-away flasks an important fashion accessory. Smoking cigarettes became a statement of liberation. Hemlines were going up and, according to some, morals were going down.
It was all a reaction to what women perceived as stifling control placed over them by the male of the species. This magazine catered to the movement.
The July 1922 edition of Flapper contained “A Flappers’ Dictionary.” According to the uncredited author, “A Flapper is one with a jitney body and a limousine mind. The Shifter is a new species who flaunts as his banner, “Something for nothing and then very little.”
“The flapper movement is not a craze, but something that will stay,” the author maintained. “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.”
The dictionary went into some detail, listing the group’s slang and providing definitions. In the process, it also provided an insight: through the slang we can begin to discern attitudes and priorities and the mindset of the adherents. And the adherents, after all, were our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Who knew?
My P,LSB*, ready and eager to join the movement, was amused by the term “Father Time” and couldn’t help but notice that it applied to one of us at the dinner table. And that was fine, until I pointed out that “Rock of Ages” might also have a present application.
So, whether you be airedale or biscuit, put down your dincher and pretend your munitions are fine for the moment. The whangdoodle is on in the background and you’re more weed than crepe hanger. This ain’t static; this is pure Di Mi. So pay attention; we don't want no klucks. And you may be edisoned later.
Absent Treatment—Dancing with a bashful partner.
Airedale—A homely man.
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.
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.
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.
Boob Tickler—Girl who entertains father’s out-of-town customers.
Brush Ape—Anyone from the sticks; a country Jake.
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.
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.
Dog Kennels—Pair of shoes.
Dropping the Pilot—Getting a divorce.
Duck’s Quack—The best thing ever.
Ducky—General term of approbation.
Dumbbell-Wall flower with little brains.
Dumkuff—General term for being “nutty” or “batty”.
Edisoned—Being asked a lot of questions.
Egg Harbor—Free dance.
Eye Opener—A marriage.
Father Time—Any man over 30 years of age.
Face Stretcher—Old maid who tries to look younger.
Fire Extinguisher—A chaperone.
Finale Hopper—Young man who arrives after everything is paid for.
Fire Alarm—Divorced woman.
Fire Bell—Married woman.
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”
Grummy—In the dumps, shades or blue.
Grubber—One who always borrows cigarettes.
Hen Coop—A beauty parlor.
His Blue Serge—His sweetheart.
Highjohn—Young man friend; sweetie, cutey, highboy.
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.
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.
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.
Nut Cracker—Policeman’s nightstick.
Obituary Notice—Dunning letter.
Orchid—Anything that is expensive.
Out on Parole—A person who has been divorced.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Weed—Flapper who takes risks.
Weeping Willow—See “Crepe Hanger”
Whiskbroom—Any man who wears whiskers.
Wind Sucker—Any person given to boasting.
Wurp—Killjoy or drawback.
*P,LSB = Poor, Long-Suffering Bride