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Slang Words From The 1930s

Here are some great slang terms from the 1930s that you may wish to add to your verbal repertoire.


Lunch atop a skyscraper in 1932
Lunch atop a skyscraper in 1932 | Wikipedia

Ackamarackus: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ackamarackus is exactly what it sounds like: pretentious nonsense.


Boondoggle: The next time you’re given a tedious or impractical task, you could call it a boondoggle. The term describes a frivolous waste of time.


Cockamamie: An adjective to describe a ridiculous, crazy, or wildly eccentric person.


Dog's Soup: Back in the ’30s, a thirsty patron ordering some dog’s soup in a diner would be given a fresh glass of water. The phrase was coined sometime in the mid-19th century as slang for rainwater, but evolved in the 1930s and became popular in the U.S. as slang for drinking water.


Eighty-six: This number refers to a sold-out food item at a restaurant. Over time, the phrase became more frequently used as a verb meaning “to refuse service” or “to throw out.”


Flossing: In the 30s, floss or flossing was synonymous with flirting or showing off, especially about one’s possessions. It wasn't until the 1970s that it became associated with dental hygiene.


Kaylied Up: Anyone who's had too much to drink could be referred to as kaylied up.


Nitwittery: Another word for stupidity.


Nogoodnik: Given that the suffix -nik denotes a person associated with something, nogoodnik is, expectedly, a word for someone who’s nothing but trouble.


Off the Cob: The Great Depression didn’t stop people from making clever puns. Off the cob describes someone whose style or mannerisms are unfashionable or banal. Simply put, it means they’re corny.


Ripsnort: To ripsnort is to behave in an exceedingly jovial or boisterous manner. At least, it meant that in the 1930s - over time, it became one of many slang terms for a very loud fart.

 
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