1920’s Slang

“You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.”
– Geoffrey Willians

Take a moment to think of your daily life. You probably get into your car, drive through town and obey the traffic lights. When the need arises, you go to the first-aid kit and get a band-aid. And, a doctor may prescribe you antibiotics if need be. If you have diabetics, it may be common to give yourself insulin shots. These are normal ways of life in today’s modern times; but, they were uncommon or not in existence yet back in the 1920s.

Cars had been around since the turn of the 20th century, but it wouldn’t be until 1923 that Garrett Morgan would invent the street light that we still use today. Just a few years earlier, in 1921, it was Earle Dickson that invented the band-aid. The first insulin injections followed just a short year later. Before this invention, diabetes was almost always fatal due to lack of methods to treat it. Yet, it would still be a few years–not until 1928–when penicillin was invented by Alexander Fleming. This opened the door to many of the antibiotics doctors still use today to treat many illnesses.

Also during this time came many colorful phrases and slang that people still today. See how many of these you know. While some of these may have different meanings today, these terms may be fun to quiz your family and friends just for fun.

Fire Extinguisher: chaperone.
Example:
She was not thrilled to have a fire extinguisher on her date. 

Wet blanket: killjoy.
Example:
Must you be a wet blanket when I’m so excited over this?

Lollygagger: to be idle.
Example:
Don’t be a lollygagger–help me carry the bags inside.

Cast a kitten: to have a fit.
Example:
Henrietta cast a kitten upon hearing the action-packed news. 

Zozzled: drunk.
Example:
Does he appear to be zozzled to you?

Get away sticks: legs.
Example:
We used our get away sticks to climb the tree. 

Oyster fruit: pearl necklace.
Example:
Kendra’s oyster fruit is stunning as it matches the pearls in her hair.

Dogs: feet.
Example:
These dogs are tired after a long day’s work.

Mind your potatoes: to mind your business.
Example:
I think it’s high time you mind your potatoes!

Grifter: con artist.
Example:
Mother warned us of the grifters in the allies.

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