Words Of The 20s: What Dapper Flappers Used to Say


Alarm clock

Hot socks, Daddy-o! We’re getting closer to the hundred-year mark of when flappers did the Charleston, mazuma meant money, and everyone just wanted to be hip to the jive. It’s time to get a wiggle on 1920s slang.

The sound of an alarm clock is usually met with moans and groans; the same reaction after learning there’s going to be a chaperone at a dance or on a date. Alarm clocks at the dance mean Jack and Jane can’t neck on the dance floor . . . or pet each other in the “petting pantry” (the movie theater, of course). Alarm clocks are vigilant at finding strategically-placed popcorn containers, you can't hide from them.

Butt me

Crazy at it seems now, alarm clocks might have allowed couples to butt each other.

No rump-rubbing here though; butt me simply meant “I’ll take a cigarette.” Makes sense. Butt has continued to describe the “end” of something (including cigarettes) for a long time.

Cash or check?

After a couple butts each other, the question: cash or check?, might come up. Translation: “Should we kiss now, or later?” Likely, the answer would be “cash”—and quick!—before the alarm clock screeches again.


No matter if the kiss is the bee’s knees or a flat tire, when Jack turns out to be nothing but a dewdropper, all bets are off. Dewdroppers don’t "dew" anything at all; they’re lazy guys who snooze all day and don’t have jobs.

Jane also doesn’t want a cake-eater (he’s a player who samples too many sweets). What Jane needs is an air-tight ("super attractive") guy who knows his onions.


Maybe what Jane’s really after is an air-tight egg who knows his onions. In that case, not only would the fella be good-looking and knowledgeable about onions, he’d also be fantastically rich and know how to spend his mazuma having whoopie ("wild fun").


“Not so fast!” Jack pipes up, quick to defend himself. What if Jane’s the one with all the issues? Let’s say Jack’s jake (that means “great”), and Jane is an unfortunate face-stretcher.

In this case, Jane’s an "old hag trying to look young" (Botox is face-stretching 2.0). One way Jane might attempt to accomplish the impossible is by putting on too much powder (which just settles into fine lines and wrinkles and makes them even more noticeable). If Jane’s a face-powder addict, she’s a flour lover.

Giggle water

In order for giggle water to enter the picture, Jack and Jane’s chaperone has to step out of it. Giggle water is the stuff the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement fought tooth and nail against—booze.

Jack and Jane might need some giggle water to help overcome their awkwardness (or overlook their faults). They might also ask for hooch juice or a quilt if they really need warming up.


Jack and Jane are only human. Yes, it's true they've got their flaws; but if the giggle water gets the couple a little blurry-eyed, they might start to see each other as hotsy-totsy, or "attractive," again.

The situation itself would be hotsy-totsy too, because it’s become almost pleasing and more fun now—enough swigs of the giggle water will get anyone wiggling.

Icy mitt

On the other hand, Jane might give Jack the icy mitt by heading off to the powder room and never returning. That is straight-up stone-cold rejection. Old-school ghosting.

Of course, Jack might excuse himself to iron his shoelaces ("use the bathroom") and give her the icy mitt, instead. In which case, Jane would laugh it off with ish kabibble (curious babble for “what do I care?”).

Ossified / Spifflicated / Zozzled

No matter what, with the alarm clock permanently unplugged, (thus enabling the giggle water to freely pour), Jack and Jane—whether hotsy or icy for each other—are bound to get ossified, spifflicated, and downright zozzled. Excessive consumption of alcoholic brews naturally zozzles the mind.

Strange to think how dappers and flappers in the 1920s linked getting drunk with ossification ("the process of turning to bone").

Phonus balonus

So now Jack and Jane are completely zozzled. Their brains are ossifying. But, not before they make a miraculous realization: “Nerts! Jeepers Creepers! Rhatz! This whole thing is phonus balonus!”

The night’s been "totally ridiculous," pure bushwa ("BS"),"complete nonsense," absolute applesauce. It’s time to wrap this up lickety-split and blow this joint!


Then and now . . .

Want to go back to the future after that trip down the jaunty, 20s-lingo lane? Well, peruse these words of the millennium (and turn that giggle water into some pimp juice.)

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