10 slang words from the 1920s you need to know
For “YOLO,” it was early 2013. As far as “Swag” goes, it was the midsummer of 2012. “Dab” spiked early in 2016, dipped, then dove right back into the popular vernacular by the end of the year.
Words come in and out of vogue, and 90 years down the road, the words listed above may be long gone (just take a look at these 10 words that immediately make you sound old!). Words have days in the sun, and others might just be something entirely different depending on where you go in the country. Back in the Roaring Twenties, these words were the fly’s thighs (one step above the bee’s knees).
- Receiving the “icy mitt” is when one expresses feelings for someone, and said feelings are not reciprocated. It’s kind of like the love-related cold shoulder.
- A “bluenose” is a wet blanket or someone who puts a damper on the mood or festivities.
- If someone leaves the room to go “iron their shoelaces,” it means they’re headed to the restroom.
- Traditionally, a “manacle” is a shackle or bond used to restrain someone. In the 1920s, it was slang for a wedding ring.
- Going along similar lines, a “handcuff” refers to an engagement ring. (We’re sensing a trend in 1920s marriage-related words here…)
- An “Oliver Twist,” oddly enough, is not slang for a small beggar boy from 19th century London, but slang for someone who is a particularly good dancer.
- A “sockdollager” is someone or something which is truly remarkable or impressive, another word for a humdinger.
- “Know your onion” is a song by The Shins, and also a slang term for being knowledgeable about a particular subject.
- “Mazuma” means cash, money, cheddar, greenbacks, what have you.
- If you want to tell a friend to not doing anything stupid, but if you want to do it in a cool, 1920s way, tell them to “not take any wooden nickels.”
Need more wacky word trivia in your life? Check out 11 Words and Phrases That Don’t Mean What You Think They Do.
Originally published as These 10 Slang Words From The 1920s Are Very, Very Weird on ReadersDigest.com.