anything with a # is from hepster’s dictionary from 1930s

anything with an

* is from carny lingo also from 1930s

A

 

a bit of fluff- young female

a lincoln- $5

abercrombie- a know it all

abie- radio personality who is a sure money maker

abyssinia- “I’ll be seeing you”

aces- very good

adenoid- vocalist with a tight voice

air out- to leave

all nerve- tense

all nighter- a restaurant that stays open all night

all the way- chocolate cake or fudge with ice cream

all wet- mistaken; wrong; full of it

# alligator- a swing fan

*alligator man- oddity with skin disease [scale-like]

amatuer investors- one who risks life savings in the stockmarket

*annex- area of a side show where the blowoff is

*anotomical wonder-pull one’s body through a cloat hanger

apple- the big town; the main stem

apple seller- unemployed used to sell apples on the streets

*arcade- tent housing coin operated amusement games

*arch- front enterance to the carnival

astroperious- haughty; superior acting

 

B

 

b-girl – a prostitue who picks up men in bars

babe- an attractive woman

baby- a glass of milk

*back end- far end of the lot[carnival] where the large shows and rides are located

*back yard- private section of a carnival that houses trailers of carnival performers and workeers away from

the public

bacon- money

balling-having a good time

*bally- the outside talker’s spiel

balmaccan- a casual loose coat with raglan sleeves

bam- down south

bananas- crazy

bang- pleasure; fun

bank night- a gimmick to bring people to the movies give prizes out

bank run- a mob of depositors making panicked withdrawls

barb- college student not affiliated with a fraternity

*barn storming- an operation with little preplanning or advance publicity

barter- trading canned goods for boxing tickets

# barrelhouse- free and easy

bash- attempt; a try

bats- insane

battle- ugly woman

battle-hammed – badly formed about the lips

*bearded lady- female with a beard

# beat- tired

beat all- be outrageous

# beat up the chops- to talk

*bed of nails- stunt where the performer lying on a bed of nails

beef- talk; state; say

behind the grind- behind in one’s studies

# belly-fiddle – guitar

belutha hatchie- next station beyond hell

*bend over store- a game joint involving thrown balls where the agents has to bend over 100 times to pick up

thrown balls

*bender- contortionist

bent- to get angry

betsy- affectionate term for any kind of gun

Big Apple- NYC

big boy- stout fellow; fool

*big Ely- the ferris wheel

*bill- a roster of acts or performances

bill and coo- to hug and kiss

bimbo- loose or promiscious woman

bird dog- a chaperone

bitch kitty- a difficult irritable complaining woman

blabber mouth- one who talks too much

# black- evening

*blade box- an act where a performer lies in a box while steel blades are pushed through it

*blade glommer- sword swallower

bleed- to extort or blackmail

blimp- fat person

*blockhead act- an act where a person drives a spike or any sharp object into the nasal passage

blow- leave

*blow off added attraction with a fee

blowing one’s top- get angry

bluchers- man’s half boot

boff- to hit

# boogie-woogie – harmony with accented bass

boon doggle – a con game; to swindle or cheat

booshwash- talk about nothing useful

# boot- to give

booze- liquor

*bozark- female wrestler or boxer at a carnival

bread- money

# break it up- to win applause; to stop the show

break-ups – crumbs; bred that doesn’t rise; samll pieces

# bright- day

# brightening- morning

brodie- mistake

browned up- fed up

bull skating- bragging

bunco- fixed card or pool gam

bunkers- eyes

*burn the lot- to allow agents to cheap brazely and leave the locals so outraged that they won’t allow your

carnival or any other in their town for a long time

burn up- to make angry

bushwa- bullshit

bust your conk- apply oneself diligently

*butcher- strolling refreshment merchant or peddler

butt sprung- a suit or a skirt out of shape at the rear

butter and egg fly- pretty woman

buzz- charge; thrill

 

C

 

C-note – $100 bill

cadillac- one ounce packet of cocaine

*cake eater- locals; rubes

can- buttocks

can house- brothel

# canary- female vocalist

*carnival- outdoor entertainment consisting of rides, consessions, games, circus, and side shows

*carny- used by ousiders of a person who works for a carnival

# cat- musician in a swing band

cave- home; apartment

cellar club- 30 cents a week to be a member to a social club in a cellar

cement dancer- bad dancer

*center joint- same as fourway joint

certifiable- crazy

chassis- female body

cheaters- glasses

checker- a dollar

cheese cake- photo of a well proportioned woman

Chicago- someone who looks like a gangster

# chick- a woman

# chime- an hour

chintzy- cheap

chiseler- a petty swindler

chump- sucker

ciner dick- rail road detective

city juice- city water

clam- $1

# clambake- a jam session not in the groove; ad lib session

cliff hanger- a serial thriller

clink- jail

*coconut shy- a game with balls thrown at coconuts

# cogs- sunglasses

cold- exceeding; well

collar- obtain

collar a hot- eat a meal

collar a nod- sleep

conk buster- liquor

convincer- gun

cool- very cool

cooled- killed

# cop- to obtain

corny- old; stale; outdated

*cowboy- hooligan who comes on the lot[carnival] to cause trouble

crag- to kill

crast- to insult

crate- old car

crawk- an animal imitator[radio]

crumb- a fink; a loser by social standers

crumb crusher- teeath

crunch- climax

cubby- home; apartment

curve- disappointment

cut- doing something swell

cute as a bug’s ear- very cute

*cutting up jackpots- expression given to swapping jackpots[see jackpots]

cuzzy- sexual intercourse

 

D

 

dame- woman

dat thing- sex of either sex

dauber- one who paints stolen cars

dead- quiet

dead hoofer- bad dancer

deb- a juvinile delinquent girl

deep pocket- much money

dibs- a claim

# dicty- high class

diddy-wah-diddy – suburb of hell; far way place

# dig- look; see

dig- understand; get it

dil-ya-ble – a phone call

dim-night

dime note- $10

dinner jacker- a man’s white formal jacket

dip- foolish; stupid person

dirk- gun

dirndl- a skirt with gathered waistline

dish- something you like

dish- unattractive woman

dizzy- hots for

*dodge ’em cars- bumper cars

dog soup- city water

# doghouse- bass

doll- a woman

doll face- name for a woman which a man is pleading his case or apologizing

# domi- ordinary place to live

*donnicker- restroom

doodly-squat – worthless

doss- sleep

*double- $20 bill; to perform more than one role at a carnival; two performer medicine show

dough- money

down in the bam- down south

drape- dress

draped down- sharply dressed

# drapes- suit of clothes

*draw- an outside talker’s inducement for the tip

dreamers- bed sheets

drift- to leave

drip- unappealing person

drop- to knock down

drop dead- absolutely not

drumsticks- legs

# dry goods- costume

duds- clothes

duke- hand

*dukkering- gypsy fortune telling

dumb to the fact- ignorant of ones talking about

dusty butt- cheap prostitute

dutchess- woman

 

E

 

*educated- knowledgable; someone to smart for a game

eel- slippery character

*emby- a particularly gullible mark

every post man on his beat- hairdo

evil- in a bad mood

 

F

 

fairy godfather- an undemanding sponsor

fella- guy

fill with daylight- bullet holes

filly- a constant girl companion to a boy

# fine dinner- good looking girl

finger- accuse one of a crime

*fireball show- a carnival of the most disreputable sort

first thing smoking- a train

fish booth- the studio observation booth

five spot- $5

flame- constant girl companion for a boy

flesh agent- a talent agent

flew the coop- elope

flirt- a constant girl companion to a boy

*floss- cotton candy

fly- be workable

fly a kite- to smuggle out a letter without it being censored

focus- to look or to see

fog- move quickly

foghorn- tuba

folding greens- money

for crying out loud!- for Christ’s sake

*fourway joint- a joint where it can be approached from all four sides

foxy- shrewd

frail- a woman

frail eel- pretty female

frame up- a set up

# fraughty issue- sad message

*freak show- a show were human oddities display themselves

free food dump- open spot near a Hooverville where food is dumped for the taking

*freezing the tip- getting those interested during the bally

# frisking the whiskers- warming up a jam session

# frolic pad- place of entertainment; theatre; night club

front- suit of clothes

# fruiting- fooling around with no particular object

function- a small unventilated dance

fuss- constant girl companion to a boy

fuzz- police

 

G

 

G- $1,000

g-man – federal agent

# gabriels- trumpeters

gaffoon- sound effect man

gam- legs

# gamming- show off

# gasser- sensational

gat- gun

# gate- a man

gator forced- long face with a big mouth

genius- an extremely dumb person

# get in there- go to work

get you to go- to force the opponent to run

getting on some stiff time- really doing well with your racket

gif up off of me- quit talking about me

giggle juice- liquor

# gimme some skin- shake hands

ginchy- sexy

ginny gall- suburb of hell; far away place

*girl in a fish bowl- an illusion show that looks like a mermaid in a fish tank

# git box- guitar

give led poisoning to- shoot a gun at someone

*glass bender- craftsman who manufactures knicknacks from glass from glass rods and a propane torch

glims- eyes

go bananas- loose control

go when the wagon comes- you may be acting biggity now, but you’ll cool down when enough power gets

behind you

# gob stick- clarinet

gobble pipe- saxophone

gong kicker- pot head

goof- wasting time; loll

goof butt- marijuana cigarette

goon- hoodlum

gopher- young hoodlum

gorilla- a brute hired as bodyguard

# got your glasses on- you are snooty and fail to recognize your friends

grabber- hand

granny grant- a mythical character to whom most questioning may be reerred to

greaseball- unpopular person

gripes my soul- irritate

# groovy- music that cooks

ground grippers- shoes

# growls- vibrant notes from a trumpet

ground rations- sex

guinea football- grenade

gum beater- someone who talks too much

gumming the works- to cause something to run smoothly

gun mob- pickpocket gang

gunsel- a gun man with a hint toward being reckless

gut foot- bad case of fallen arches

 

H

 

H- heroine

*half and half- a hermaphoridite

half portion- unpopular person

*hard cash- all change[coins]

# hard spiel- interesting line of talk

happy dust- cocaine

hauling- fleeing on foot

hay- small amount of cash

*headless illusion act- illusion show where a living headless person is displayed

*heat merchant- a carny whose personality and actions causes trouble for the carnival with the towns people

heel a joint- to steal from a store’s or bank’s cash register

# hep- savvy

# hep cat- guy who has all the answers

# hides- drums

*high grass- out of the way rural area

hinged- to glance at

history- over; done with

hoary-eyed – drunk

hock shop- pawn shop

hocks- feet

hog calling contest- stenuous commercial audition for commetators

hoist- to rob

hokus- cocaine, opium or marijuana

homeboy- an address to a neighborhood young man

honey cooler- kiss

hoo ha- commotion

hooch- liquor

hoof- dance

hooker- prostitute

hoover blankets- newspapers used by the homeless as bed sheets

hoover carts- old automobiles pulled by mules

hoover flags- empty pockets

hooverville- a community of ramshackle shacks

hop- dance or party

hop head- user of cocaine or opium

horse- heroine

hot cha cha- pretty woman

hot dog- exclamation of delight

hot little number- good-looking woman

hot mama- attractive woman

hot squat- electric chair

hotcha- pretty female

*human dynamo act- electric chair act

*human skeleton- human oddity who is extremely enaciated from a disease or muscular disorder

*human torso- oddity born without legs or legs and arms

hummer- excessively good

# hype- build up; wooing a girl; prsuasive talk

 

I

 

I shot him lightly and he died politely- I completely out did him

ickie- someone who doesn’t like popular music

# igg- to ignore

in a pig eye- not likely

# in the groove- music that cooks

indian hay- marijuana

# iron works- vibrophone

 

J

 

# Jack- address to a male friend

*jackpots- carnival people’s tall tales of their exploits

# jam- improvised swing music

Jeff- a pest or a bore

jelly- sex

# jelly- anything free; on the house

jelly bean- unpopular person

jerk soda- dispensing of soda or ice cream from a dispensing machine

jigger man- look out for a burgalry

jimmy- heavy steal bar to break into houses

jitterbug- someone who is nervous

# jitterbug- a fan of swing music

# jive- harlemese speech

joed- tired

joggin- head

john- bathroom

John law- police man

joint- place; bar

# joint is jumping- a place that’s lively

jolly up- a dance

jook- pleasure house

jooking- playing musical instrument

jug- bank robbers term for a bank

jug hack- bank guard

jug man- one who robs banks

juggins- sucker

juice- liquor

*juice- bribe to pay off the police

juicy- enjoyable

july jam- anything hot or enjoyable

# jump in port- arrive in town

jump salty- to get angry

 

K

 

K balling- salvaging parts from junkyard rail cars to rebuild others

keen- fond of

keen-

keep company- date

*keister- portable display case for a pitchman wares

kibosh- squelch

# killer-diller – a great thrill

kisser- lip

kitchen mechanic- a domestic

kite- a letter that gets smuggled in and out of prison without censored

kitten- pretty female

# knock- give

knock yourself out- have a good time

knocked up- pregnate

knockout- attractive woman

# kopacetic- the top; a-one

*Kunstkammer- rooms or cabinets that houses the private collection of art and curiosities owned by the

carnival management

 

L

 

lambeth walk- a dance from the 1930s

lame-brained

lamps- eyes

# lamp- to look; see

lane- non professional

*larry- something broken or damaged

lay- a place to be robbed

lay some iron- tap dancing

*lecturer- one who talks inside the tent about the attraction

# left raise- left side

let one have it- hit someone

# licks- hot musical phrases

# licorice stick- clarinet

lightly, slightly and politely- doing things perfectly

lightweight- one who can’t get things done

# lily whites- bed sheets

line- cost; price; money

little sister- measure of hotness

liver lips- thick purple lips

*lobster man/woman- human oddity with a birth defect giving them arms and/or legs with an appearance of lobster claws

long greens- money

*lookie lou- someone walks around and looks but wont part with a dime

louse-up – ruin

low down- all the information

lug- foolish guy

*lugen- an unbelievable dumb, easy mark

lunger- someone with tuberculosis

 

M

 

Madame Cadenza- a ditzy female singer[radio]

made hairs- hair that has been straightened

# main kick- the stage

# main on the hitch- husband

making tracks- leave in a hurry

making whoopee- have a good time

maracas- breasts

*mark- a townsperson you focus on as a victim

mary magdaline- reformed prostitute

meat hooks- hands

# mellow- all right; fine

*mentalist act- an act where a person who reads minds

# mezz- supreme

Michigan bankroll- a roll of green paper with $100 wrapped on the outside to fool or swindle

Mickey Mouse- unimportant

*midway- area in the carnival the games, side shows, and games are located

minxy- alluring; seductive

*missing link- an ape-like person that displays him/herself at a freak show

mitt- hand

*mitt camp- a fortune telling booth

mitt me kid- congradulate me

mol buzz- steal a pocket purse from a baby carriage

monday morning quarterback- one who gives advise too late

moolah- money

moon- to daydream

moonshine- illegal liquor [beginnign of the decade only]

# mouse- pocket

moxie- guts; some nerve

muffin- woman

mug man- a small time thug

mugging- making them laugh

mule- carrier of illegal drugs

#murder- excellent; terrific

 

N

 

nanty- nothing

naps- hairdo

nearer my god to thee- good hair

neck- kiss

# nickle note- $5

nifty- neat

no goodnik- a bad or worthless person

nobby- very good

# nod- sleep

norfolk jacket- jacket made of tweed and plaid

not the only pebble on the beach- not the only fish in the sea

nothing to bear but you’re curly hair- I call your bluff

now you’re cooking with gas- now you’re talking

nuts!- tell someone they are full of bull

 

O

 

oddball- an eccentric

# off-time jive – saying the wrong thing

on edge- nervous

on the beach- unemployed

on the make- seeking sexual partner

on the take- taking bribes

oomph- sex appeal

oomph girl- woman with sex appeal

*open front show- a show arranged so that the entrance’s front of the tent is open except the center to tease

the on-lookers

# out of the world- perfect rendintion

 

P

 

pad- apartment

# pad- bed

pal- address to a friend

pally- friend chum

palmer house- walking flat-foot

panty waist- wimp; sissy

panty waisted- wimpy; effeminate male

parka- winter jacket

payola- bribe

pecking- a dance from the 1930s

peeping through one likkers- carrying on even though drunk

P. I. – private investigator

*picture gallery- tattoed man

pies eyes

pig meat- young girl

*pig pen- the area where you congregate the turned tip before admitting them to the main tent

pilch- home; apartment

pill- anything difficult

pillars- legs

pimp- a male who sold his love talents to a woman in exchange for a place to live

pin- announces one’s engagement

*pin cusion act- an act where a person puts sharp object in his/her flesh

*pin heads- human oddity with the head coming to a point

*pit show- an attraction displayed in a pit

*pitch card- cards containing photos and biographical information og human oddities and performers

plank- cheap wine

plate- feet

*platform- either a raised stage for the talker or performer

platinum blonde- hair color

platter- record

playing the dozen- verbal duel which two people trade insults

plenty rugged- big and strong

plugged nickles- worthless items

plugging- – shooting a gun at someone

pokey- jail

pooch out- stick out

*popeye act- a working freak who could literally pop eyeballs out of his sockets

*popper- popcorn cart[wagon]

# pops- salutation for all males

pot- unattractive female

# pounder- police man

prowl car- police car

pull a Daniel Boone- to vomit

punk-drunk – insane

put on- deception

put the bite on someone- to extort or blackmail

puts a bee in one’s bonnet- tell something interesting

 

Q

 

# queen- a beautiful woman

 

R

 

rag- dance or party

rags- clothes

# rank- to lower

rat on- to tell on someone

rat’s mark- V-shaped wound to an informer to mark him

raunchy- dirty

*reading the midway- walking down the midway with ones head down, looking for lost change and other

vulueables that are lost

real McCoy- top end liquor

# reeds- saxophone

reefing- pickpocket a pocket lining

rent party- dance party at one’s home provided for a small contributions to be collected to pay rent

rhino- money

ride- keep perfect tempo

# riffs- hot musical licks

righteous grass- good hair

righteous mass- good hair

righteous rags-

ring-a-ding-ding – a good time at a party

riot- a great time

rip snorter- something excellent

rod man- gun man for the mob

romp- a dance or party

roscoe- gun

ruff- quarter 5 cents

rug cutter- good dancer

 

S

 

sad sack- unpopular or depressed person

# sadder than a map- terrible

salad- money

#Sam got you- you’ve been drafted in the Army

sap- idiot

satch- illicit drug in paper, smuggled into prison

sauce- whiskey

savvy- brains; cool

scag or skag- homely or ugly female

score- burgalry of money or valuables

scout master- an advertisement agent executive

scrap iron- cheap booze

scratch- money

scream- someone or something halirious

scrub- poor student

sell out

# send- thrill

sender- person with the right stuff

# set of seven brights- week long

shadow- muscle man; loan shark

shake a leg- hurry up

shell game- con game using three shells

*shill- employee poses as a customer playing a game to motivate other customers to do likewise

short- a car

shotgun wedding- wedding forced by pregnancy

shutters- eyes

*side show- a show on the midway of a carnival consist of oddities and performers

# signify- to brag; to boast

simoleon- a dollar

slap happy- insane

slip me five- shake hands with me

skiffle- a rent party where someone charge you to attend their party for them to use the profits to pay the rent

# skin tickler- drummer

*sky grifter- atent-revival evangelist

sky piece- hat

slug burger- adding old day bread to ground beef

# slush pump- trombone

smoking- looking someone over

smooch- kiss

smooth- very good

snazzy- very good

snipe- cigarette

snoot- nose

*snorting pole- a pole extended from the floor to the tent top in the center of the stage

# solid- perfect

sooner- anything cheap or mogrel

sore- resentful; angry

# sound off-begin a program

sourdough- conterfeit money

souse- intoxicated

spare ribs- piano

*spidora-illusion show giving the appearance of a giant spider with a woman’s head

*spiel- the selling phase of a bally to convince the on lookers

spieler- a radio announcer

spitting on the sidewalk- any trivial offence that puts anyone into jail

spiv- slick con man

split- leave

# spouting- talk too much

square- nothing

square John- law abidding citizen

# squeak box- violin

# squeeze box- accordion

squirrel fever- sex drive; horniness

stanch- to begin

stems- legs

stick- force someone to do something unpleasant

stinker- a real jerk

storm buzzard- shiftless,homeless person

*string show- several acts strung together in one tent for one price

stroll- doing something well

suds- money

sugar hill- northwest of Harlem near Washington Heights

# suitcase- drums

sweet- very good

sweet mama- attractive female

swing- hang

 

T

 

*tableau- a grouping of figures like a wax museum in the carnival

tag along- come with

take a hike- leave

take a powder- to run away

# takes off- to play a solo

*talkers- man who makes the spiel to build the tip in front of an attraction

talkies- movies with sound

*teaser curtain- a curtain positioned in the open door way of a show, allowing patron’s outside only a

partial teasing view

ten ear- one who doesn’t like popular music

the bear- confession of povert

the high hat- a response intend to offend

the kiss off- final good-bye as in death

the match game- using three match boxes for a street hustle

the word- latest news

thousand on a plate- beans

threads- clothes

three letter man- homosexual male

throwing led- shooting a gun at someone

ticks- moments; minutes

tied to an apron string- man dominated by his wife

tight head- one with kinky hair

# timber- toothpick

tin- loose change

# togged to the bricks- dressed to kill

tommy gun- thompson sub machine gun

tootsy- woman

torch- arsonist

town crier- loud singer

# tram- trombone

# trickeration- strutting your stuff

trucking- dance step

twist- a woman

twister to the slammer- key to the door

twit- superficial person

 

U

 

up the river- prison

uprights- legs

 

V

 

V and X- 5 and 10 cent store

violin- small machine gun

violin case- machine gun case

 

W

 

Walter Winchell- one who talks too much

wet smack- killjoy

wet sock- unpopular person

whacky- crazy

what’s on the rail for the lizard- suggestion for moral turpitude

wheat- person unuse to city ways

wheel horse- an important visible hard working member of an organization

whip it to the red- beat your head until it bleeds

wing ding- a dance or a party

wolf- sexually aggressive man

*wolf boy/girl- human oddity with excessive hair who displays him/herself as such

wood chopper- xylophoneist

woodshed- a rehersal for a show

woofing- casual conversation

*working act- an act in a carnival of a skilled performer

 

X

 

Y

 

# yarddog- uncouth, badly attired, unattractive person

yikes!- interjection of surprise

you and me both- I agree

“You shred it-, wheat”- “You said it”

young suit- ill fitting; too small

your likker told you- misguided behavior

 

Z

 

# zoot- exaggerate

# zoot suit- ultimate in clothes

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