Write a poem using Jazz age slang, use word list attached, and try to write it in a way that develops a rhythm, like Hughes’ poetry. Your poem must be a minimum of 10 lines long when completed. It doesn’t have to deal with the same subjects as Hughes’ poetry, but can if you desire.


Jazz Age Slang word list:



ab-so-lute-ly: affirmative

Abe’s Cabe: five-dollar bill

ace: one-dollar bill

all wet: incorrect

And how!: I strongly agree!

ankle: to walk, i.e.. “Let’s ankle!”

apple sauce: flattery, nonsense, i.e.. “Aw, applesauce!”

Attaboy!: well done!; also, Attagirl!


baby: sweetheart; also denotes something of high value or respect

baby grand: heavily built man

baby vamp: an attractive or popular female; student

balled up: confused, messed up

baloney: nonsense

Bank’s closed.: no kissing ie. “Sorry, mac, bank’s closed.”

barrell house: illegal distillery

bearcat: a hot-blooded or fiery girl

beat it: scram, get lost

beat one’s gums: idle chatter

bee’s knee’s: terrific; a fad expression. Dozens of “animal anatomy” variations existed: elephant’s eyebrows, gnat’s whistle, eel’s hips, etc.

beef: a complaint or to complain

beeswax: business; student

bell bottom: a sailor

belt: a drink of liquor

bent: drunk

berries: (1) perfect (2) money

big cheese: important person

big six: a strong man; from auto advertising, for the new and powerful six cylinder engines

bimbo: a tough guy

bird: general term for a man or woman, sometimes meaning “odd,” i.e. “What a funny old bird.”

blind: drunk

blotto (1930 at the latest): drunk, especially to an extreme

blow: (1) a crazy party (2) to leave

bootleg: illeagal liquor

breezer (1925): a convertable car

brown: whiskey

brown plaid: Scotch whiskey

bug-eyed Betty (1927): an unattractive girl; student

bull: (1) a policeman or law-enforcement official, including FBI. (2) nonesense (3) to chat idly, to exaggerate

bump off: to kill

bum’s rush, the: ejection by force from an establishment

bunny (1925): a term of endearment applied to the lost, confused, etc; often coupled with “poor little”

bus: any old or worn out car

busthead: homemade liquor


cake-eater: a lady’s man

caper: a criminal act or robbery

cat’s meow: great, also “cat’s pajamas” and “cat’s whiskers”

cash: a kiss

cast a kitten/have kittens: to have a fit. Used in both humorous and serious situations. i.e. “Stop tickling me or I’ll cast a kitten!”

cheaters: eye glasses

chewing gum: double-speak, or ambiguous talk

Chicago typewriter: Thompson submachine gun

choice bit of calico: attractive female; student

chopper: a Thompson Sub-Machine Gun, due to the damage its heavy .45 caliber rounds did to the human body

chunk of lead: an unnattractive female; student

ciggy: cigarette

clam: a dollar

coffin varnish: bootleg liquor, often poisonous

copacetic: excellent, all in order

crasher: a person who attends a party uninvited

crush: infatuation


daddy: a young woman’s boyfriend or lover, especially if he’s rich

daddy-o: a term of address; strictly an African-American term

dame: a female; did not gain widespread use until the 1930’s

dapper: a Flapper’s dad

darb: a great person or thing, i.e. “That movie was darb.”

dead soldier: an empty beer bottle

deb: a debutant

dewdropper: a young man who sleeps all day and doesn’t have a job

dick: a private investigator; coined around 1900, the term finds major recognition in the 20s

dinge: a derogatory term for an African-American; out of use by 1930

dogs: feet

doll: an attractive woman

dolled up: dressed up

don’t know from nothing: doesn’t have any information

don’t take any wooden nickels: don’t do anything stupid

doublecross: to cheat, stab in the back

dough: money

drugstore cowboy: a well-dressed man who loiters in public areas trying to pick up women

drum: speakeasy

dry up: shut up, get lost

ducky: very good

dump: roadhouse


earful: enough

egg: a person who lives the big life


face stretcher: an old woman trying to look young

fella: fellow. as common in its day as “man,” “dude,” or “guy” is today, i.e. “That John sure is a swell fella.”

fire extinguisher: a chaperone

fish: (1) a college freshman (2) a first timer in prison

flat tire: a bore

flivver: a Model T; after 1928, could mean any broken down car

floorflusher: an insatiable dancer

flour lover: a girl with too much face powder

fly boy: a glamorous term for an aviator

For crying out loud!: same usage as today

four-flusher: a person who feigns wealth while mooching off others


gams (1930): legs

gasper: cigarette

gatecrasher: see “crasher”

get-up (1930): an outfit

get a wiggle on: get a move on, get going

get in a lather: get worked up, angry

giggle water: booze

gigolo: dancing partner

gimp: cripple; one who walks with a limp; gangster Dion O’Bannion was called Gimpy due to his noticeable limp

gin mill: a seller of hard liquor; a cheap speakeasy

glad rags: “going out on the town” clothes

go chase yourself: get lost, scram.

gold-digger (1925): a woman who pursues men for their money

goods, the: (1) the right material, or a person who has it (2) the facts, the truth, i.e. “Make sure the cops don’t get the goods on you.”

goof: (1) a stupid or bumbling person, (2) a boyfriend; flapper.

goofy: in love

grummy: depressed

grungy: envious


handcuff: engagement ring

hard-boiled: a tough person, i.e: “He sure is hard-boiled!”

harp: an Irishman

hayburner: (1) a gas guzzling car (2) a horse one loses money on

heavy sugar (1929): a lot of money

heebie-jeebies (1926): “the shakes,” named after a hit song

heeler: a poor dancer

high hat: a snob

hip to the jive: cool, trendy

hit on all sixes: to perform 100 per cent; as “hitting on all six cylinders;” perhaps a more common variation in these days of four cylinder engines was “hit on all fours;” also see “big six”.

hooch: booze

hood (late 20s): hoodlum

hooey: nonsense; very popular from 1925 to 1930, used somewhat thereafter

hope chest: pack of cigarettes

hopped up: under the influence of drugs

horse linament: bootleg liquor

Hot dawg!: Great!; also: “Hot socks!”

hot sketch: a card or cut-up


“I have to go see a man about a dog.”: “I’ve got to leave now,” often meaning to go buy whiskey

icy mitt: rejection

Indian hop: marijuana

insured: engaged

iron (1925): a motorcycle, among motorcycle enthusiasts

iron one’s shoelaces: to go to the restroom

ish kabibble (1925): a retort meaning “I should care,” from the name of a musician in the Kay Kayser Orchestra


jack: money

Jake: great, i.e. “Everything’s Jake.”

Jalopy: a dumpy old car

Jane: any female

java: coffee

jerk soda: to dispense soda from a tap; thus, “soda jerk”

jitney: a car employed as a private bus; fare was usually five cents, ergo the alternate nickname of “nickel”

joe: coffee

Joe Brooks: a perfectly dressed person; student

john: a toilet

joint: establishment

juice joint: a speakeasy


kale: money

keen: appealing

killjoy: a solemn person

know one’s onions: to know one’s business or what one is talking about


lay off: to leave one alone

left holding the bag: (1) to be cheated out of one’s fair share (2) to be blamed for something

let George do it: a work evading phrase

level with me: be honest

limey: a British soldier or citizen; from World War I

line: a false story, as in “to feed one a line”

live wire: a lively person

lollapalooza (1930): a humdinger

lollygagger: an idle person


manacle: wedding ring

mazuma: money

milquetoast (1924): a very timid person; from the comic book character Casper Milquetoast, a hen-pecked male

mind your potatoes: mind your own business

mooch: to leave

moonshine: homemade whiskey

mop: a handkerchief

Mrs. Grundy: a prude or kill-joy

mulligan: Irish cop

munitions: face powder


necker: a girl who wraps her arms around her boyfriend’s neck

nifty: great, excellent

noodle juice: tea

“Not so good!”: “I personally disapprove.”

“Now you’re on the trolley!”: “Now you’ve got it!”.


off one’s nuts: crazy

“Oh yeah!”: “I doubt it!”

old boy: a male term of address, used in conversation with other males as a way to denote acceptance in a social environment; also: “old man” or “old fruit”

Oliver Twist: a skilled dancer

on a toot: a drinking binge

on the lam: fleeing from police

on the level: legitimate, honest

on the up and up: on the level

orchid: an expensive item

owl: a person who’s out late


palooka: (1) a below-average or average boxer (2) a social outsider; from the comic strip character Joe Palooka, who came from humble ethnic roots

panic: to produce a big reaction from one’s audience

Panther sweat (1925): homemade whiskey

percolate: (1) to boil over (2) as of 1925, to run smoothly; “perk”

phonus balonus: nonsense

piffle: baloney

piker: (1) a cheapskate (2) a coward

pill: (1) a teacher (2) an unlikable person

pinch: to arrest

pinched: to be arrested

pipe down: stop talking

prom-trotter: a student who attends all school social functions

pos-i-lute-ly: affirmative, also “pos-i-tive-ly”

punch the bag: small talk

putting on the ritz: after the Ritz Hotel in Paris (and its namesake Caesar Ritz); doing something in high style; also, “ritzy”


rag-a-muffin: a dirty or disheveled individual

rain pitchforks: a downpour

razz: to make fun of

Real McCoy: a genuine item

regular: normal, typical, average

Reuben: an unsophisticated country bumpkin; also, “rube”

Rhatz!: “How disappointing!” flapper

rotgut: bootleg liquor

rub: a student dance party

rubes: money or dollars

rummy: a drunken bum



sap: a fool, an idiot; very common term in the 20s

sawbuck: ten-dollar bill

says you: a reaction of disbelief

scratch: money

screaming meemies: the shakes

screw: get lost, get out, etc.; occasionally, in pre 1930 talkies (such as The Broadway Melody) screw is used to tell a character to leave: one film features the line “Go on, go on–screw!”

screwy: crazy; “You’re screwy!”

sheba: one’s girlfriend

sheik: one’s boyfriend

shine box: a bar or club for black patrons

shiv: a knife

simolean: a dollar

sinker: a doughnut

sitting pretty: in a prime position

smarty: a cute flapper

smoke-eater: a smoker

sockdollager: an action having a great impact

so’s your old man: a reply of irritation

speakeasy: a bar selling illeagal liquor

spill: to talk

static: (1) empty talk (2) conflicting opinion

stilts: legs

strike-me-dead: bootleg liquor

struggle: modern dance

stuck on: in love; student.

swanky: (1) good (2) elegant

swell: (1) good (2) a high class person


tasty: appealing

tea: marijuana

teenager: not a common term until 1930; before then, the term was “young adults.”

tell it to Sweeney: tell it to someone who’ll believe it

tight: attractive

Tin Pan Alley: the center of the music industry in New York City, located between 48th and 52nd Streets

torpedo: a hired thug or hitman

trip for biscuits: wild goose chase


unreal: special

upchuck: to vomit

upstage: snobby


voot: money


water-proof: a face that doesn’t require make-up

wet blanket: see Killjoy

white lightning: bootleg liquor

wife: dorm roomate; student.

“What’s eating you?”: “What’s wrong?”

whoopee: wild fun


“You slay me!”: “That’s funny!”