The term "flapper" evokes the image of short fringe dresses, cigarette holders, bobs and stylish hair accessories.
But beyond these shorter hemlines and daring fashion attitudes was a strong undercurrent of change for women in the Roaring 1920s. This new generation of young woman, tired of men's dominance in society and of the old social norms that stifled them, took on new behaviors previously deemed not suitable for women. They drove cars, drank alcohol, and attended jazz clubs by night where they danced, smoked cigarettes and dated men casually. They began to work outside the home and advocated voting as well as other women's rights.
Along with these new trends and social statements, these flapper girls invented their own slang, some of which still makes an appearance in our vocabulary today. Some of it is indicative of these women's growing liberation: "handcuff" was a slang term for engagement ring, "hush money" was allowance from a father, and "dropping the pilot" meant getting a divorce. This generation even had their own magazine, “The Flapper”, whose tagline was "Not for Old Fogies", that catered to the movement.
Read on below to get in touch with your inner flapper and brush up on the lingo from the 1920s. Are you a tomato, a flapper, or a Trotzky?
Absent Treatment- Dancing with bashful partner.
Anchor- Box of flowers.
Apple knocker- A hick, a hay-shaker.
Apple Sauce- Flattery; bunk.
Barlow- A girl, a flapper, a chicken.
Bank’s Closed- No petting allowed; no kisses.
Bee’s Knees- See Cat’s Particulars.
Bell Polisher- A young man addicted to lingering in the vestibule at 1 a.m.
Berry Patch- A man’s particular interest in a girl.
Biscuit- A pettable flapper.
Big Timer (n. masc.)- A charmer able to convince his sweetie that a jollier thing would be to get a snack in an arm-chair lunchroom; a romantic.
Billboard- Flashy man or woman.
Blushing Violet- A publicity hound.
Blouse- To go.
Blow- Wild party.
Blaah- No good.
Boob Tickler- Girl who entertains father’s out-of-town customers.
Brush Ape- Anyone from the sticks, a country jake.
Brooksy- Classy dresser.
Bun Duster- See Cake Eater
Bush Hounds- Rustics and others outside of the Flapper pale.
Cancelled Stamp- A wall flower.
Cake Basket- A limousine.
Cake Eater- See Crumb Gobbler.
Cat’s Particulars- The acme of perfection; anything that’s good.
Cat’s Pajamas- Anything that’s good.
Cellar Smeller- A young man who always turns up where liquor is to be had without cost.
Corn Shredder- Young man who dances on a girl’s feet.
Crasher- Anyone who comes to parties uninvited.
Crashing Party- Party where several young men in a group go uninvited.
Cuddle Cootie- Young man who takes a girl for a ride on a bus, gas wagon, or automobile.
Cuddler- One who likes petting.
Dapper- A flapper’s father.
Dewdropper- Young man who does not work, and sleeps all day.
Dincher- A half-smoked cigaret.
Dingle Dangler- One who insists on telephoning.
Dipe Ducat- A subway ticket.
Dimbox- A taxicab.
Di Mi- Goodness.
Dog Kennels- Pair of shoes.
Dropping the Pilot- Getting a divorce.
Duck’s Quack- The best thing ever.
Ducky- General term for approbation.
Dud- Wall flower.
Dudding Up- Dressing.
Dumbdora- Stupid girl.
Dumbell- Wall flower with little brains.
Dumkuff- General term for being “nutty” or “batty.”
Edisoned- Being asked a lot of questions.
Egg Harbor- Free dance.
Embalmer- A bootlegger.
Eye Opener- A marriage.
Father Time- Any man over 30 years of age.
Face stretcher- Old maid who tries to look young.
Fire Extinguisher- A chaperone.
Finale Hopper- Young man who arrives after everything is paid for.
Fire Alarm- Divorced woman.
Fire Bell- Married woman.
Flat Shoes- Fight between a Flapper and her Goof.
Fluky- Funny, odd, peculiar, different.
Flatwheeler- Flat shy of money; takes girls to free affairs.
Floorflusher- Inveterate dance hound.
Flour Lover- Girl who powders too freely.
Frog’s Eyebrows- Nice, fine.
Gander- process of dudding up.
Gimlet- A chronic bore.
Given the Air- When a girl or fellow is thrown down on a date.
Give Your Knee- Cheek-to-cheek and toe-to-toe dancing.
Goofy- To be in love or attracted to. Example: I’m goofy about Jack.
Goat’s Whisker’s- See Cat’s Particluars
Grubber- One who always borrows cigarettes.
Handcuffs- Engagement ring.
Hen Coop- A beauty parlor.
His Blue Serge- His sweetheart.
Houdini- To be on time for a date.
Hush Money- Allowance from father.
Jane- a girl who meets you on the stoop.
Johnnie Walker- Guy who never hires a cab.
Kitten’s Ankles- See Cat’s Particulars.
Kluck- Dumb, but happy.
Lens Louise- A person given to monopolizing conversation.
Lemon squeezer- An elevator.
Low Lid- The opposite from high brow.
Mad Money- Carfare home if she has a fight with her escort.
Monkey’s Eyebrows- See Cat’s Particulars.
Monog- A young person of either sex who is “goofy” about only one person at a time.
Monologist- Young man who hates to talk about himself.
Mustard Plaster- Unwelcome guy who sticks around.
Munitions- Face powder and rouge.
Necker- A petter who puts her arms around a boy’s neck.
Noodle Juice- Tea.
Nut Cracker- Policeman’s Nightstick.
Obituary Notice- Dunning letters.
Orchid- Anything that is expensive.
Out on Parole- A person who has been divorced.
Petting Pantry- A movie.
Petting Party- A party devoted to hugging.
Petter- A loveable person; one who enjoys to caress.
Police Dog- Young man to whom one is engaged.
Potato- A young man shy of brains.
Ritzy Burg- Not classy.
Rock of Ages- Any woman over 30 years of age.
Rug Hopper- Young man who never takes a girl out. A parlor hound.
Sap- A Flapper term for floorflusher.
Scandal- A short term for Scandal Walk.
Scandaler- A dance floor fullback. The interior of dreadnaught hat, Piccadilly suitings and shoes with open plumbing, size 13.
Seetie- Anybody a flapper hates.
Sharpshooter- One who spends well and dances much.
Shifter- Another species of a Flapper.
Show Case- Rich man’s wife with her jewels.
Sip- Flapper term for female Hopper.
Slimp- Cheapskate or “one way guy.”
Smith Brothers- Guys who never cough up.
Smoke Eater- A girl cigarette user.
Smooth- Guy who does not keep his word.
Snugglepup- A man fond of petting and petting parties.
Sod Buster- An undertaker.
Stander- Victim of a female grafter.
Static- Conversation that means nothing.
Swan- Glide gracefully.
Tomato- A young woman shy of brains.
Trotzky- Old lady with mustache and chin whiskers.
Umbrella- Young man any girl can borrow for the evening.
Urban Set- Her new gown.
Walk In- Young man who goes to parties without being invited.
Weasel- Girl stealer.
Weed- Flapper who takes risks.
Weeping Willow- perpetual cryer
Whiskbroom- Any man who wears whiskers.
Wind Sucker- Any person given to boasting.