101+ 1920s Slang Words That Take You Back to a Different Time

The roaring twenties were a time of glitz and glamor. The era was known as the “Jazz age” and everyone was out partying like there’s no tomorrow. Of course, these scenes are for the rich alone, since even then, there is an enormous gap between the rich and poor.

Today, we’ll be going back in time and talk about the 1920s slang. These terms might be too old to use, but you can spice your vocabulary and add a few words to impress someone. This way, you’ll have more to talk to and you can share the knowledge you learned with us.

Therefore, read the 100+ 1920s slang words we provided below. We also provided the meanings of each slang and added examples to kick-start your learning!

1920s Slang Words That Take You Back to a Different Time (In Alphabetical Order)



  • Meaning: (Noun) The 1920s slang “alderman” is a name for a man’s pot-belly. A pot belly consists of excess fat.
  • Example: Hey, your alderman’s showing. Pull down your shirt.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Ameche, in the 1920s slang, is another name for a telephone. It was named after a famous actor, Don Ameche, who played a telephone inventor, in one of his films.
  • Example: Answer the amehce. It’s been ringing since morning.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “ankle” is used to refer to a woman. It is also used when a person is about to walk or is walking with someone.
  • Example: Do not engage with that ankle. She has quite the reputation, and not a good one.


  • Meaning: (Expression) The expression “applesauce” is a popular expression used in the 1920s. The term means “nonsense.”
  • Example: Applesauce! You are just overreacting.



  • Meaning: (Expression) Another expression that means “nonsense” is baloney. The word also means that a person does not believe in what the other person is saying.
  • Example: What you are implying is baloney! I won’t listen to another word you’re saying.

Be on the nut

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The phrase “be on the nut” means that a person is about to be or is broke.
  • Example: I’ll be on the nut if I don’t pay off my debts in six months.

Bee’s knees

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The phrase “bee’s knees” refers to an extraordinary person. It can also be used for extraordinary things or situations.
  • Example: Your idea is bee’s knees! Let’s do it tonight.

Big one

  • Meaning: (Noun) The term “big one” is one of the slang terms used for “death” in the 1920s.
  • Example: If you keep driving like that, you’ll be near the big one soon.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Bim is one of the slang terms used for “woman.” It is one of the most commonly used slang in the 1920s era.
  • Example: Are you going out with the bim you met last night?

Blip off

  • Meaning: (Verb) The term “blip off” who is about to kill someone.
  • Example: Do not test me. I am ready to blip off any minute.


  • Meaning: (Verb) Blow, in the 1920s era, has a different meaning than what we know today. This slang means “leave.”
  • Example: Let’s blow. This party is getting boring.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “bo” is used to call a close friend or fellow. It was widely used in the 1920s and can still be used today.
  • Example: Come meet my bo. He’s also single.


  • Meaning: (Noun) A boiler is another word for “car.” Cars, or boilers, in the 1920s, use stem engines to run.
  • Example: You could wait in the boiler for me. I’ll be quick.


  • Meaning: (Noun) “Bracelets” is another term used in the 1920s for handcuffs.
  • Example: Did they put bracelets on you? Do not say a word until our lawyer arrives!


  • Meaning: (Noun) Broad is another word for a pretty woman. It was one of the most common terms in the 1920s.
  • Example: Why did you not bring your broad with you? I was hoping my wife would have someone to talk to tonight.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Bruno is a common word in the 1920s for a tough guy or an enforcer.
  • Example: You’re messing with the wrong person. He is a bruno.

Butter and egg man

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The term “butter and egg man” is used to call a person who brings the money. He is also called the “money man.”
  • Example: Let’s wait for the butter and egg man to arrive.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Butts is another word for cigarette. Cigarettes were popular in the 1920s and people can smoke anywhere they please.
  • Example: Let me finish my butts before leaving.



  • Meaning: (Noun) The term “C” is another term for $100 bills. A pair of $100 bills is called a pair of Cs.
  • Example: I need to borrow a pair of Cs to start a small business.


  • Meaning: (Noun) A can be used for two things: It can be used as another word for jail or car. This term is jailhouse talk during the Jazz age.
  • Example: I can’t believe you were canned last night! What were you doing?!


  • Meaning: (Noun) Century is also another word for a $100 bill.
  • Example: I only have a century left and it won’t get me through this month.


  • Meaning: (Noun) In the 1920s, the word “cheaters” meant “sunglasses.” This term was used because you cannot tell if a person is lying or not because you couldn’t see his or her eyes.
  • Example: I like your cheaters. Where’d you get them?


  • Meaning: (Adjective) Another 1920s slang word used often then and now is chew. To chew is to eat.
  • Example: Let’s chew before we hit the road. It will be a long drive.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “chick” is still used even today, but it started back in the 1920s. The word chick means a woman with sex appeal.
  • Example: I saw you hanging out with the chick we met at the party the other night.


  • Meaning: (Noun) In the 1920s era, a gullible person is called a chump.
  • Example: Hey, chump. Would you lend me a few bucks? I swear to give it back tomorrow.


  • Meaning: (Adjective) The word “clipped” means “shot” because when you pull the trigger of a gun, it makes a clipping sound.
  • Example: He almost got clipped yesterday. We shouldn’t have risked it.

Close your head

  • Meaning: (Expression) When a person says “close your head”, he or she wants you to shut up.
  • Example: Close your head! Your opinion doesn’t matter.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The term “croaker” is another name for “doctor” and is a popular slang in the 1920s.
  • Example: We need to call a croaker or else he won’t recover.


  • Meaning: (Noun) You might be familiar with the word “crush” today, for it is still used. The word was popularized in the 1920s and means a person you are infatuated with.
  • Example: Have you tried approaching your crush?



  • Meaning: (Noun) Another popular slang word in the 1920s is “dame.” It is another slang for “woman.”
  • Example: You’re a pretty dame. Can I take you out?


  • Meaning: (Verb) The term dance does not have a positive meaning back in the jazz era. It meant “to be hanged” since death by hanging was still allowed.
  • Example: I can’t believe he’ll dance tomorrow. Now, all that he killed will be avenged.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Another slang for an excellent or smart person is “darb.”
  • Example: You are the only person marked with the highest scores. Congratulations, darb!


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “dib” is the share of the proceeds a person will receive after working with a group.
  • Example: How much dib will I have? I need to pay some bills by the end of the week.


  • Meaning: (Noun) A dish is a woman with a strong sex appeal or is pretty. It is also a popular 1920s slang but is not heard of today.
  • Example: What a dish you are. Are you in a relationship?


  • Meaning: (Noun) A dive is a cheap transient hotel or a bar. Since the 1920s is full of glitz and glam, dives are quite distinguishable and can look out of place.
  • Example: I don’t want to go in a dive. It’s dirty and unsafe.


  • Meaning: (Noun) back then, bread is used to pay for things and necessities a person needs. Therefore, most people in the 1920s use “dough” as another term for money.
  • Example: You have enough dough to last you until the next assignment.


  • Meaning: (Verb) To drift is to go or leave.
  • Example: He drifted away with his friends driving stolen cars.

Drop a dime

  • Meaning: (Phrase) Drop a dime is a phrase commonly used in the 1920s that means to make a phone call or to tell something to the police. Usually, witnesses that don’t want to get involved call the police to narrate what happened during a crime.
  • Example: Did you drop a dime on me? Sorry, I couldn’t answer earlier.


  • Meaning: (Noun) A drum is a code or slang used to call a speakeasy. Speakeasies were not always legal, so most people going to these establishments needed to make up a name to prevent authorities from catching them.
  • Example: There’s a new drum downtown. Let’s check it out tonight.

Dust out

  • Meaning: (Verb) The term “dust out” is used when a person is leaving.
  • Example: I need to dust out. It’s getting late.



  • Meaning: (Noun) The term egg is used to call a man who lives a fancy life and is always dressed to impress.
  • Example: The egg is wearing fancy clothes just to have a few drinks.



  • Meaning: (Adverb) The word fade is a popular 1920s slang that means “to go away” or get lost.”
  • Example: Why are you still here? Fade!


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word fella was first used in the 1920s and until now, it’s a slang term used for a man.
  • Example: The fella over there is not a good fellow. Avoid that sneaky person.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Fin is slang for a $5 dollar bill.
  • Example: Could you lend me a fin? I’m short now but I’ll pay you back tomorrow.

Flat tire

  • Meaning: (Phrase) When you hear a person say he or she went on a flat tire, he or she means a disappointing date.
  • Example: My date brought a female companion! What a flat tire.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “flippers” does not mean the swimming apparatus you wear to help you swim faster and longer with minimal effort. In the 1920s, it meant “hands.”
  • Example:Your flippers are dirty. That’s not how a pretty woman should be.


  • Meaning: (Verb) When you are tired or going to bed, you “flop” down on the bed. This term was popular back in the Jazz age but is not commonly used today.
  • Example: i could flop any time. I’m just so tired today.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “frau” is a German word for “wife” and is used as 1920s slang for “wife” as well.
  • Example: Where’s your frau? Is she sick?


  • Meaning: (Verb) The word fry is used when a person, commonly a criminal that has a death sentence, is electrocuted.
  • Example: The prison guards will bring him his last meal before getting fried. He should just accept punishment.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The term “fuzz” was used to call the police. It was a popular term amongst hippies.
  • Example: Hurry, the fuzz will be here any minute.



  • Meaning: (Noun) The term “gams” refers to a woman’s legs. Back in the 20s, a woman’s legs are the sexiest part of their body.
  • Example: A woman gams is the man’s weakness.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Gaspers are marijuana cigarettes that were illegal back in the 1920s.
  • Example: They’re not necessarily mafia since they only sell gaspers.

Get sore

  • Meaning: (Phrase) When a person says “get sore”, he or she is provoking you until you get mad.
  • Example: You don’t approve of what I do? Get sore, then.

Giggle water

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The term “giggle water” is used to refer to particularly hard liquor.
  • Example: You trouble boys always drink too much giggle water.


  • Meaning: (Adjective) Goofy is a popular slang in the roaring twenties that means “crazy.”
  • Example: You look goofy when you are portraying one of the plainclothes railroad cops.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “goon” was first used in 1920 and is still used today. It refers to a person who is a thug.
  • Example: I can’t believe that ladies’ man is a goon!

Gooseberry lay

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The phrase “gooseberry lane” is used when someone is caught stealing clothes from a clothesline.
  • Example: Do not gooseberry lay on our neighbors. I am warning you.

Grab air

  • Meaning: (Phrase) “Grab air” is a phrase used when a person is lifting their hands up in the air.
  • Example: Everyone, grab air! This will be an exceptional ride.


  • Meaning: (Noun) A grand is equivalent to $1,000. This 1920s term is still widely used today.
  • Example: You ask for a grand as if we’re rich!



  • Meaning: (Noun) A hack is a taxi, and the term was derived from the black carriages in London called “hackney carriage.”
  • Example: Call a hack for me while I prepare. Thank you.


  • Meaning: (Noun) A half is 50 cents. Back in the roaring twenties, a half is already a sizeable amount of money.
  • Example: Are you sure you only need a half?


  • Meaning: (Noun) Heebie-jeebies is used when a person has jitters or is overly nervous about something.
  • Example: This person easily convinced, is giving me the heebie-jeebies.

High pillow

  • Meaning: (Phrase) A high pillow is a person who is in charge or is on the top level of a company.
  • Example: Remember, he is the high pillow, and he wants to talk to you. This is amazing news!


  • Meaning: (Verb) Hinky is another way of saying that a person is suspicious about someone or something.
  • Example: This situation is hinky. I don’ think I want to continue.

Hitting on all eight

  • Meaning: (Expression) Hitting on all eight does not mean hitting the eight ball. This 1920s slang means a person is in good shape and is doing well.
  • Example: It’s been so long, bro! I see you’ve been hitting on all eight.


  • Meaning: (Adjective) When something happens, and it is not expected, it is hokum. The word “hokum” means that someone or something is nonsense.
  • Example: Accusing him of being a corrupt politician is hokum!


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “horn” is another term used to call a telephone because they were shaped like a small horn back then.
  • Example: Why does the horn keep ringing? Will no one answer?


  • Meaning: (Phrase) “Hotsy-totsy” is another term for a pleasing person, thing, or situation.
  • Example: This brash young woman is unexpectedly pleasing.



  • Meaning: (Noun) Ice is a word used to call diamonds back in the roaring twenties. Today, we could still hear this term used, especially in music and film.
  • Example: You’ve got quite the collection of ice.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Iron is another 1920s slang term for a car.

    Example: Start the iron. We’ll be leaving in a while.



  • Meaning: (Noun) Jack is not a person, but money. This term was derived from the Cockney rhyming slang “jack’s alive” and means a 5-pound note.
  • Example: I would appreciate it if you would let me borrow a jack.


  • Meaning: (Nouun) The word “jane” is another term for a woman, especially woman who cannot be identified.
  • Example: The police saw a jane lying on the ground. They are checking for any sign of life.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Joe means a cup of coffee. This 1920s slang is still widely used today.
  • Example: A cup of joe would be nice on this rainy morning


  • Meaning: (Noun) The term “joint” is used in place of “house” or “place.” We can still hear this term being used today.
  • Example: This joint is sick! If this is how men sleep soundly, then I need a place like this.



  • Meaning: (Adjective) The word “keen” means that a person or thing is attractive or appealing to a person’s eyes.
  • Example: This might be an old car, but it’s keen, and it takes me where I need to be.


  • Meaning: (Noun) In the 1920s, a kisser is a mouth.
  • Example: Watch the words that go out of your kisser.


Lammed off

  • Meaning: (Phrase) “Lammed off” means a person ran away or escaped.
  • Example: He lammed off when we discovered the drink drugged with something to make a person blackout.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “large” is another term for $1,000.
  • Example: I won 10 large at a local lotto booth!


  • Meaning: (Verb) A line is when someone offers or says insincere flattery to another person.
  • Example: I can’t believe you say lines to your weak sister! It doesn’t help her.

Lousy with

  • Meaning: (Phrase) Though lousy is associated with negativity, the phrase “lousy with” means a person has plenty of things.
  • Example: You are lousy with jewelry. I am so jealous!



  • Meaning: (Verb) The word “made” is slang for getting recognized by someone.
  • Example: I made you are wearing a wedding ring. I don’t want trouble.


  • Meaning: (Noun) In the roaring twenties, a face is called a map because as a person ages, lines form around the face, creating a map of memories of both happiness and sadness.
  • Example: Your map is as beautiful as ever.


  • Meaning: (Noun) Pearls are called marbles because they are both similar in shape and size.
  • Example: Your marbles are gorgeous! Please tell me where I could get one for myself.



  • Meaning: (Verb) To be “nailed” is to be caught by the police.
  • Example: I knew I was nailed when he showed me his policeman’s badge.


  • Meaning: (Verb) When a person says you’re necking with someone, you are snuggling intimately.
  • Example: Tell me the truth. Did you neck him last night?

Nibble One

  • Meaning: (Phrase) When a person asks you to nibble one, he or she is asking you to drink with him or her.
  • Example: Come on, let’s nibble one. It’s still early!


  • Meaning: (Noun) In the 20s, the term “number” means a person.
  • Example: That number is a beauty!


Out on the roof

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The term “out on the roof” is used when a person is drunk.
  • Example: You were out on the roof the other night. Are you feeling much better now?



  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “pal” refers to a male friend. This term is still widely used up to this day.
  • Example: My pal can fix bent cars. His services are well-priced too!


  • Meaning: (Noun) In the Jazz age, people call the heart a pump because of how the heart pumps blood.
  • Example: Your pump is weak, so don’t do any strenuous activities until the doctor says otherwise.

Put down

  • Meaning: (Phrase) To put down at the end of a tiring day means to drink.
  • Example: Let’s put down and wear glad rags and have a mini party at my place.



  • Meaning: (Verb) When a person says they ratted out, it means they informed another person about someone’s whereabouts or secrets.
  • Example: Never rat me out or you’ll be in a gunfire Chicago overcoat.


  • Meaning: (Adjective) The term “ritzy” means elegant.
  • Example: The 1920s was a ritzy era.


  • Meaning: (Noun) The slang term “rod” means gun.
  • Example: I could use my rod on a wet blanket like you.



  • Meaning: (Expression) The term savvy is an expression used when a person asks another if he or she understands.
  • Example: Do not open this box. Savvy?

Scram out

  • Meaning: (Phrase) Scram out is another 1920s slang phrase used today. It means “leave.”
  • Example: Scram out, dumb dora!


  • Meaning: (Verb) To sing is to confess a committed crime.
  • Example: Sing, wrong gee! Or you’ll get chin music.


  • Meaning: (Verb) In the Jazz Age, “slant” is a term used when a person wants to look at something.
  • Example: Slant at the house dick peering inside the house next door.


  • Meaning: (Verb) The word “smoked” refers to a person who is overly intoxicated.
  • Example: When will you come home and not be smoked?


Take On

  • Meaning: (Phrase) “Take on” is a phrase when a person wants to eat.
  • Example: Let’s take on steak and ribs this evening.

Tighten the screws

  • Meaning: (Phrase) When a person says “tighten the screws”, it means to put pressure on somebody.
  • Example: If you continue this behavior, I will tighten the screws.

Tip a few

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The phrase “tip a few” means to have a few drinks.
  • Example: Let’s tip a few at my joint this weekend.



  • Meaning: (Verb) Whoopee means having fun with your partner.
  • Example: Let’s stay home and whoopee today.

Wrong number

  • Meaning: (Phrase) A wrong number is a person who’s no good.
  • Example: Stay away from him. He’s a wrong number.


Ya follow

  • Meaning: (Expression) When a person asks if “ya follow?”, he or she is asking you if you understand.
  • Example: Stay put and touch nothing. Ya follow?


  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “yard” is used to call a $100 bill.
  • Example: Do you have a yard? I’ll pay you back as soon as I can.

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