Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Flapper Slang

By Lisa Karon Richardson
It’s no secret that I’ve had a love affair with words my whole life. One of the most fascinating things about Shakespeare was that when he couldn’t find the word he wanted, he made it up. (If only I had that kind of chutzpah!) Language is ever evolving but sometimes rather than moseying along in slow progression, it seems to take a running leap and land in a place quite different than where it started. And if there’s any era that epitomized the speed with which the world and our vernacular can change, the roaring 20’s is it. There was something whimsical and infectious about the slang from that time period.

Check out this list of slang that’s the cat’s pajamas.

1. Fire Extinguisher-chaperone
2. Umbrella- young man any girl can borrow for the evening
3. Dapper-a flapper’s dad

4. Face stretcher-an old maid who tries to look young
5. Bimbo-a tough guy
6. Cake eater-a lady’s man
7. Floorflusher-an insatiable dancer
8. Gigolo-a dance partner
9. Mulligan-an Irish cop
10. Mrs. Grundy-a prude or killjoy
11. Owl-a person who stays out late
12. Jelly Bean-A flapper’s boyfriend
13. Cellar Smeller- a young man who always turns up where there’s free liquor to be had

14. Corn Shredder- young man who dances on a girl’s feet

15. Being Edisoned- getting asked a lot of boring questions

16. Finale Hopper- a young man who arrives after everything is paid for
17. Mustard Plaster- unwelcome guy who sticks around
18. Potato- a young man shy of brains

19. Rug Hopper- young man who never takes a girl out. A parlor hound.

If you could make any phrase a “Thing” what might it be? And please translate for us!

Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, Lisa Karon Richardson’s early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her newest novel, The Magistrate’s Folly just released February 5th!


  1. an "edith" - someone who should be smart enough to know better but has too low of expectations in finding a mate.

    a "downtoner" - something that makes your heart race with joy and then rips it out and stomps on it.

    a "screen-actor" - one who obsessively stares into the computer screen for hours a day, scrolling through social media to feel like they have a life

  2. Lisa! This was so fun to read! I'm saving this for future reference. As for my own slang - I have to think on it a while.

    Deb, yours are great. I think I'll save those, too. An Edith. I love it.

  3. Okay, stealing from Deb...

    A "Violet" - sharp-witted person with words that are sure to make the recipient "shrink" a little inside.

  4. My daughter makes up words all the time. Personally, I'm a linguist, not a grammarian. And...I love the new flapper girl on Downton.

  5. PERFECT! I like that one too, Suzie.

    As Rose is rather annoying to me, I expect they'll have me loving her by this time next year. Fellowes likes to make us root for people we don't expect to root for.

    Lisa, I don't think I've heard of any of those phrases! how much fun is that?

    I have a photo of my grandmother with one of those flapper hats on. What a treasure!

  6. I think Rose is rather cute. I'm sure she's going to bring a little excitement to the castle.

    Okay. I'm so going to be late for work, but here's one more: Choochie Face: a word for when a baby, kitten or puppy is so cute you just want to rub your face against theirs - even if you're highly allergic and will have to take benadryl afterwards.

    Just between us, it's a name I often call my cat.

    And yes, I totally stole it from Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang.

  7. Deb! I love your words. Edith is perfect!

  8. Suzie! Violet--I like how you twisted it to make the other person shrink and not them. You guys are amazing!

  9. I'm woefully behind on Downton Abbey facts and figures, but the more you guys talk about it the more I want to catch up!

  10. I got a kick out of these, Lisa! We should bring them back into fashion.

    Interesting that all those new words and phrases came about in that era of such dramatic social change, and now we're in another era like that and we have all these new words... like "Googled."

    Not feeling terribly creative today, so someone come up with a phrase for a non-Downton fan. :)

  11. BTW, Deb, I love "screen-actor." SO true!

  12. This post is the bees knees, Lisa!

    Suzie, I love Violet! Hysterical Downton words, Deb. Edith is my fave. Maybe being a "Branson" is marrying up, but for the right reasons.

  13. Love it!!!

    I say those of us who are going to ACFW in Indy should go as flappers. I'm game.

    a Gina -- someone who is excited to do something wild, crazy, a bit daring, probably dangerous, would like get her/you in trouble, but is too excited to think twice

  14. We definitely have to watch out for the Ginas of the world!

  15. Deb, I'd love to see that picture of your grandma some day!

  16. Dina, can you give us any examples of phrases your daughter has made up?

  17. Niki-A Doneton, someone who is done with hearing about Downton Abbey and wishes the show as cancelled already.

  18. So, I'm sitting here trying to picture myself as a flapper... it ain't gonna happen, girls. LOL

    I coined the word, wreader, a few years ago. It was when I first came back to writing and everywhere I went on the web, someone asked if I was a reader or a writer. I finally started typing, wreader. I think I still have that on a couple profiles out there. No, it didn't catch on and I'm still the only one who uses it. Sure saves time, though. Ha!

  19. Oh, I love these!

    "Fire Extinguisher!" BWAHAHAH!

    I'm SO using that in my latest Drew book. Madeline's aunt is definitely a Fire Extinguisher! :D

  20. I should know a few after living with my grandparents as a child. Well, I do have a few of gramma's phrases but I don't think they're suitable for publication...

    Just thinking about this - when will the new Gatsby movie come out? It looks pretty intense (isn't everything now? Must be why I liked Best Exotic Marigold Hotel so much - no jaw dropping visual effects and stage extravaganzas)

  21. Oh, Anita, I really like wreader--and wreader anxiety is the angst of new writers as they can no longer enjoy books now that the know how many "rules" the authors are breaking!

  22. I thought fire extinguisher was hilarious too, DeAnna. I'd love to see it in a book!

  23. Deb, The Great Gatsby looks lavish for sure and I really like Carey Mulligan so I'm looking forward to it.

  24. LOL... Doneton. I love it. Thanks Lisa!


Share This Post

How Our Giveaways Work: The Official Rules

We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.