Introducing A Flapper’s Dictionary

shoe imagesIn celebration of completing one more pass through my entire novel as part of my revision process, I’m sharing A Flappers Dictionary. I used it to provide a smattering of flap talk throughout the second half of the book. The talk and the dress – especially shoes – of the 1920s are integral to my story (the working title of my novel is Papa’s Shoes).

Unfortunately I cannot say I’m done-done with Draft 4. I have many Post-it flags on pages to go back to. Plus I need to cut. I’m about 9,000 words over the 90,000 word-limit for novels. Another daunting job to start on Monday.

A Flappers’ Dictionary

(courtesy of Book Flaps and the guy behind the counter at The York Emporium used book and curiosity shop in downtown York, PA. Visit him online)

During the Roaring 20s of the last century, young ladies took on a new, and for the time radical, lifestyle. These were the years following World War I and prior to The Great Depression. It was the jazz age and the ladies were taking full advantage in daring new ways. Illegal bootleg hooch was all the rage, with hide-away flasks an important fashion accessory. Smoking cigarettes became a statement of liberation. Hemlines were going up and, according to some, morals were going down.

It was all a reaction to what women perceived as stifling control placed over them by the male of the species. This magazine catered to the movement.

The July 1922 edition of Flapper contained A Flappers’ Dictionary. According to the uncredited author, A Flapper is one with a jitney body and a limousine mind. The Shifter is a new species who flaunts as his banner, Something for nothing and then very little.

The flapper movement is not a craze, but something that will stay, the author maintained. Many of the phrases now employed by members of this order will eventually find a way into common usage and be accepted as good English.


Absent Treatment Dancing with a bashful partner.
Airedale A homely man.
Alarm Clock Chaperone.
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.
Barneymugging Lovemaking.
Bee’s Knees See Cat’s Pajamas.
Bell Polisher A young man addicted to lingering in vestibules at 1 a.m.
Bean Picker One who patches up trouble and picks up spilled beans.
Berry Patch A man’s particular interest in a girl.
Berries Great.
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 armchair 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
Bust A man who makes his living in the prize ring, a pugilist.
Bun Duster See Cake Eater.
Bush Hounds Rustics and others outside of the Flapper pale.
Cancelled Stamp A wallflower.
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.
Clothesline One who tells neighborhood secrets.
Corn Shredder Young man who dances on a girl’s feet.
Crepe Hanger Reformer.
Crumb Gobbler Slightly sissy tea hound.
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 cigarette.
Dingle Dangler One who insists on telephoning.
Dipe Ducat A subway ticket.
Dimbox A taxicab.
Di Mi Goodness.
Dogs Feet.
Dog Kennels Pair of shoes.
Dropping the Pilot Getting a divorce.
Dumbdora Stupid girl.
Duck’s Quack The best thing ever.
Ducky General term of approbation.
Dud Wallflower.
Dudding Up Dressing.
Dumbbell-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 younger.
Feathers Light conversation.
Fire Extinguisher A chaperone.
Finale Hopper Young man who arrives after everything is paid for.
Fire Alarm Divorced woman.
Fire Bell Married woman.
Flap Girl
Flat Shoes Fight between a Flapper and her Goof
Fluky Funny, odd, peculiar; different.
Flatwheeler Slat shy of money; takes girls to free affairs.
Floorflusher Inveterate dance hound.
Flour Lover Girl who powders too freely.
Forty-Niner Man who is prospecting for a rich wife.
Frog’s Eyebrows Nice, fine.
Gander Process of duding up.
Green Glorious Money and checks.
Gimlet A chronic bore.
Given the Air When a girl or fellow is thrown down on a date.
Give Your Knee Cheek-to-cheek or toe-to-toe dancing.
Goofy To be in love with, or attracted to. Example: I’m goofy about Jack.
Goat’s Whiskers See Cat’s Particulars.
Goof Sweetie.
Grummy In the dumps, shades or blue.
Grubber One who always borrows cigarettes.
Handcuff Engagement ring.
Hen Coop A beauty parlor.
His Blue Serge His sweetheart.
Highjohn Young man friend; sweetie, cutey, highboy.
Hopper Dancer.
Houdini To be on time for a date.
Horse Prancer See Corn Shredder.
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.
Lap Drink.
Lallygagger A young man addicted to attempts at hallway spooning.
Lens Louise A person given to monopolizing conversation.
Lemon Squeezer An elevator.
Low Lid The opposite of highbrow.
Mad Money Carfare home if she has a fight with her escort.
Meringue Personality.
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.
Mug To osculate or kiss.
Necker A petter who puts her arms around a boy’s neck.
Noodle Juice Tea.
Nosebaggery Restaurant.
Nut Cracker Policeman’s nightstick.
Obituary Notice Dunning letter.
Oilcan An imposter.
Orchid Anything that is expensive.
Out on Parole A person who has been divorced.
Petting Pantry Movie.
Petting Party A party devoted to hugging.
Petter A loveable person; one who enjoys to caress.
Pillow Case Young man who is full of feathers.
Police Dog Young man to whom one is engaged.
Potato A young man shy of brains.
Ritzy Burg Not classy.
Ritz Stuck-up.
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 a dreadnaught hat, Piccadilly shoes with open plumbing, size 13.
Seetie Anybody a flapper hates.
Sharpshooter One who spends much and dances well.
Shifter Another species of flapper.
Show Case Rich man’s wife with jewels.
Sip Flapper term for female Hopper.
Slat See Highjohn; Goof.”
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.
Snake To call a victim with vampire arms.
Snuggleup A man fond of petting and petting parties.
Sod Buster An undertaker.
Stilts Legs.
Stander Victim of a female grafter.
Static Conversations that mean nothing.
Strike Breaker A young woman who goes with her friend’s Steady while there is a coolness.
Swan Glide gracefully.
Tomato A young woman shy of brains.
Trotzky (sic) Old lady with a moustache 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 a party without being invited.
Weasel Girl stealer.
Weed Flapper who takes risks.
Weeping Willow See Crepe Hanger
Whangdoodle Jazz-band music.
Whiskbroom Any man who wears whiskers.
Wind Sucker Any person given to boasting.
Wurp Killjoy or drawback.
*P,LSB = Poor, Long-Suffering Bride.

Speak Your Mind