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Home The Decades 1950s 1950s Slang

1950s Slang

1950-living-room-loc

Pictured above: 1950s living room interior at Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire/Highsmith, Carol M., 1946-, photographer/LOC

VAV!/September 16, 2013

Americans, meet the 1950s aka the "Fabulous Fifties" or the "good life"! The decade, following WWII, enjoyed more leisure and more disposable income than ever before! Yesterday's Americans were confident and enjoying the bliss of economic blessings. They looked forward to the future with a confident, almost smug, yet innocent acceptance...while the media shaped their culture and family values.

But, did the 1950s really embrace the good life for everyone?  Afterall, it was also a time of strict conformity to religion , racial discrimination was prevalent and blacks were disenfranchised,  social expectations were placed on women in the 1950s,  and gender roles were emphasized.   In short, there was no room for dissidence.

Ahhh, but on the horizon, the youth culture was emerging and Rock and roll had arrived!

On that note, let's take a look at the slang of the 1950s, a very telling reflection of the times and the culture.

 

A

Are You Writing A Book? - Phrase that suggests an individeual is too inquisitive/nosy 
A Chop - To diss
A Gas - Fun
A Blast - Fun
All Show and No Go - Looks good but little substance or proof of performance
Actor - Show-off
Agitate the Gravel- Departure
Ain't that a bite?- Tough break/too bad
Ankle-biter - Child
Anti-frantic - Copasetic/calm/collected
Apple butter - Flattering
Ape (go ape/go ape shit) - Wild behavior/erratic

1950s-shopping-district-spokane

Pictured above: VIEW OF LIBRARY SITE FROM SOUTHWEST CORNER OF MONROE STREET AND MAIN AVENUE LOOKING NORTHEAST. - Sears, Roebuck Department Store, West 906 Main Avenue, Spokane, Spokane County, WA/photographer unknown/circa 1950s, on file at Eastern Washington Historical Society Library, Spokane, Washington.

B

Bite the Weenie - Tough beans/too bad
Baby Cute - Term of endearment
Back seat bingo - Necking and petting in the back of a car
Bad news - Undesirable
Bash - A party time
Bent eight - A V-8/Hotrod
Big Daddy - A sugar daddy/older man
Big tickle - Funny
Bit - A part/an act/
Blast - Great event/time
Blow off - To avoid/to depart/To rid
Boss - All that
Bread - Money
Bug "You bug me" - bothersome
Bug off - Take leave
Burn rubber - To take off swiftly
Baby - Term of Endearment
Bake biscuits - Making records
Ballad - Love letter
Bash ears- Conversation
Binoculars - Glasses
Blanket - Sandwich
Bull - Athlete's physique
Bundie - Boy in need of hair cut
Bad - Really rocking/cool
Bogart - Greedy
Bonafied - The real thing
Bench Racing - Contemplation and conversation about race car outcomes
Bitchin/Twitchin - Major ally cool
Blitzed - Inebriated
Brew/Brewski -Beer
Birth Control Seats - Bucket Seats in cars
Bummed Out/Bummer - Out of sorts emotionally
Bag - Theft
Beat Feet - Depart hastily
Book - Depart hastily

C

Cast An Eyeball - Appraise the situation/look it over
Cool It - Calm down and relax
Cruisin' for a Bruisin' - Looking for trouble
Candyass - Pushover/Easily intimidated
Cat - Person
Cherry - Untouched/perfect automobile
Chick - Female
Chrome Dome - Baldheaded person
Choice - Fine/best of the best
Circus Wagon - Primo automobile in poor mechanical shape
Cop a Feel - Grope of another's genitals/anatomy
Crash - Sleep/Conk out
Cruising - Looking for action
Cast an eyeball - Having a looksee
Circled - Married
Classy chassis - Outstanding body
Cloud 9 - On top of the world with joy
Cool - The be all
Cooties - Bogus terminology for a legendary uncool persons affliction
Cranked - Wound up emotionally
Crazy - Out of this world
Cream - Wholly devastate
Cube - Normal
Cut the gas - Keep quiet/pipe down
Cut out - Depart
Cool Head - Righteous person
Copasetic- All fine
Chariot - Automobile
Chili - That's a good deal
Closet case - disturbed person
Clutched - Rejected/turned away
Committed - Engaged
Cooking - What's happening
Cooking with steam - Going well/moving fast
Cop a breeze - Depart
Corral - School grounds
Climb It, Tarzan - A phrase uttered while flipping middle finger

D

Dig? - Does that make sense? Understand?
Don't Flip Your Wig - Calm down and don't get too excited
Don't Have A Cow - Calm down and don't get too excited
Daddy-O - An older man/sugar daddy
Decked Out - Dressed ones best
D.D.T. - Drop Dead Twice
Deuce - 1932 Ford
Dibs - Lay claim to
Duck Butt / D.A. - Slicked back greaser/hood
Dipstick - Male Idiot/lacking smarts
Ditz - Female idiot/lacking smarts
Drag - A downer/short car race
Dude - Geek
Drip - Geek/uncool/downer
Double Doo Doo - Bad gone worse/terrible mistake
Drowning - Confused
Due backs - Cigarette pack
Don't Sweat It - Don't worry
Drawing Designs - Observing the opposite sex

E

Earthbound - Accountable/reliable
Earth pads - Footwear
Easy - Girl who is promiscuous
Eureka - Sudden awareness
Epistle - Letter
Eyeball - Observing
Eat Your Heart Out - Look and wish

F
Flake Off - Depart
Fast - Sexually promiscuous
Face - Clock/Time piece
Fade out - Disappear
Fake out - Unsatisfactory date mate
Far out - Really cool/unusually fine
Fat City - An ideal/got it made situation
Fire up - Get started/start engines
Flat out - Straight up answer
Flat top - Man's crew cut with "a flat top"
Flick - Movie
Flip top - Convertible
Floor it - Accelerate an automobile
Flutter bum - Handsome
Fracture - To amuse to extreme
Frail - Financially depleted
Frosted - Angered/cheated
Fuzzy Duck -
Fab - The best of the best
Fink - A person who is a double crossing rat
Flake - Less than desirable
Fox - Fine woman with desirable looks
Fuzz - Police
Funky - Neat/or unusual (used interchangeably)
Flip To get very excited
Flee the Scene - Quick departure
Five Finger Discount - Theft
502 - Driving Inebriated

G

Germ - Annoying/pest
Get bent - Get lost
Get with it - Do it right/get with the program
Gig - A job/an event
Give me a bell - Telephone
Give me five - Handshake
Go for pinks - Automobile Drag race for certain stakes
Goof - Individual who is clumsy/awkward/foolish
Goopy - Glutinous consistency
Goose it - Accelerate
Greaser - Tough guy hood type
Gringles - To worry
Grody - Unkempt
Grundy - Description
Go All the Way - Finish what you started
Go Flog Your Log - Sexual satisfaction through masturbation
Get Kicks - Engaging in fun

H

Hiney Biting - No back biting
Hacked - Angered
Heavy - Somber/serious
Heat - Police
Hep - Cool/cutting edge
Horn - Telephone
Hunk of Junk - Pile of useless parts/car
Handle - Name
Hang - Engage in idle activity
Heart - Preferred teacher
Hey bean - Salutation
Hip - Cool/cutting edge
Hipster - Cool/cutting edge person
Hit the bottle - Bleaching hair
Hopped up - Modified car
Hottie - Fast car/fine looking person
Hound - Bus
Haul ass - Get going fast

I

Ice it - Forget about it
Illuminations - Thoughts
In orbit - Know how
Ivy Leaguer - Person who attend an Ivy League college
It's Snowing Down South - A slip (lingerie apparel) is showing beneath skirts
I Feel Like A Defective Typewriter - Skipped period

J

Jinx, You Owe Me a Coke! - Spoken phrase when someone speaks the same words at the same time
Jump Bad - Picking a fight
Jacked Up - Wound up/or a car with raised suspension
Jacketed - 'Going Steady'
Jazzed - Hepped up/Excited/Stimulated
Jelly Roll - Men's hairstyle
Jets - Super intelligent
Joe Doe - A male blind date

K

Kibosh - To put a stop to
Keeper - Someone or something worth keeping
Kick - Tons of fun
Kill - Impress
Knuckle sandwich - To hit with fist (particularly in the face)
Kookie - A little crazy/unique
Kiss Up - Teacher's pet
Keen - Tops/cool
Keen-o - Top notch/cool
Knocked Up - Pregnant

L

Later/later gator - Good bye!
Lay a patch - Accelerate
Lay dead - Stop for a minute
Lid - Headwear
Like crazy - Beyond the beyond
Low - Feeling dejected

M

Machine - Hot rod/car
Made in the shade - Sure thing/easy street
Madison Avenue - Cutting edge/astute/cunning
Make out - Kissing/Romancing
Make the scene - Make an appearance
Mark - Signature
Meanwhile, back at the ranch - Return to the beginning
Mickey Mouse - Small time
Most - Outstanding/the best

Mooning - Displaying your derriere

N

Nifty - Very special/cool/neat
Nest - Hairstyle
Nod - Drifting off to sleep
No Sweat - No problem
Nowhere - Dead end person/place/or thing
Nowheresville - Dead end person/place or thing
Nerd - Uncool/bookie
Night shift - A pj party/sleep over
Nuggets - Pocket change

O

Odd ball - Odd person
Old Lady - Mother/wife
Old Man - Father/husband
On the Stick - Cutting edge
Outta Sight - Beyond perfection/cool
On the Make - Looking for romance/relationship
On the hook - In a relationship

P

Pad - Home
Paper shaker - Cheerleader
Party pooper - Spoiled sport
Passion Pit Drive- Movie Theatre
Peel Out - Depart quickly
Peepers - Glasses
Pile up the Z's - Sleep
Pooper - Spoiled Sport
Pop the Clutch - Fast start
Pound - To injure/physically abuse
Punch it - Fast Start
Put down - Insult/degrade
Panic and a half - Beyond funny
Panty Waist - Pushover/geek/sissy/mother's boy/teacher's pet
Primo - Best of the best/all top class
Peachy Keen - The best/top notch
Pussy Wagon - Automobile
Pinky's out of jail - Slip (lingerie/underwear) showing beneath skirts
Play dead - To be quiet
Proof - Of age identification/license
Punk - Person who is weak/childish/child
Put down - Humiliate

Q

Queen - Popular girl
Quote - To repeat

R
Rocket - Automobile
Round up time - Summer's end
Roust - Arrested
Running lights - Eyes
Righteous - Upstanding
Righto - Good enough/sure
Real Gone - In a romantic relationship
Radioactive - Popular
Rag Top - Convertible
Rap - To rat someone out
Rattle your cage - To upset
Raunchy - Undesirable state of disarray
Razz my berries - To upset/excite
Reds - Angered
Reds- Communist
Refuel - Eat
Rock - Diamond or a steady person
Royal Shaft - Rudely dismissed
Ring-A-Ding-Ding - Expression of sarcasm

S

Shoot Low, They're Riding Shetlands - Use caution
Scream - Fast
Screamer - Hot Rod
Shot down - Utter failure/rejection
Shuckster - Deceitful person
Sides - Records
Sing - Informant/Tattle tale
Sounds - Music
Souped up - To modify
Spaz - A space cadet/Confused/Disabled
Split - Departure
Square - Normal/fair person
Stacked - A big busted woman
Subterranean - A person in the know/hipster
Swapping Spit-Kissing
Salty -Precious/pricey/angered

Haier-LOC

Pictured above: Charles and Myrtle Cobb at their home near Yakima/ca. 1950's./Congdon Canal, Fish Screen, Naches River, Yakima, Yakima County, WA/Creator(s): Rice, Harvey S., creator/LOC

Set of wheels - Automobile

Skinny - Financially desperate
Slip - To give
Shag Ass - Departure
Split - Departure
Sex Pot - Overly sexed woman
Skag - Ugly/overly sexed woman
Shake It, Don't Break It - A woman with a naturally exaggerated walk
Stacked - Large-breasted
Sounds - Music
Stuck Up - Arrogant/Conceited/Condescending
Stud - Desirable man with a Pleasing Appearance
Sweat hog - Obese Woman
Sluff - Skip classes
Snowed - Fooled/bowled over
Sophie - Girlfriend
Storming machine - Speedy automobile
Score - to obtain something

T

To Ball - Romancing
Tank - The family car
Thin one - Dime
Think Fast - Expression for catch/heads up/get ready
Threads - Clothing
Tight - Total trust
Tube steak - Frankfurter/hot dog
Tune Out - Don't pay attention
Teach - Teacher
The Living End - The ultimate in wonderful
The Bird - A profane gesture with the middle finger

U

Unborn - Naive
Unreal - Beyond excellent

V

Vultures - Boys trolling for girls

W

Wet Willie - A moistened finger placed in another's ear
Woody - Male Erection
Warden - Teacher
Way out - Cool/Edgy/Avant garde
Weed - Cigarette
Wazoo - Derriere
Word from the Bird - Truth
What's buzzin, cuzzin - Salutation/What's up?/What's new?
What's your tale, nightingale - What's new/What's Up/Salutation
What's your bag - Discerning an issue
What's Up, Doc - Salutation
What Do You Think This Is, A Gang Bang - Expression used to dismiss another

Y

Z


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Pictured above:  Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in A still from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). One of the 25 films added by the Librarian of Congress to the National Film Registry as "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant and worthy of preservation./Contributed by Screen Grab from LOC Facebook. VAV!/December 17, 2014 Cinematic Treasures Named to National Film Registry "Saving Private Ryan," "Luxo Jr." and "Rosemary's Baby" Among Film Additions The horrors of war, the heroism of sacrifice, a vaudeville pioneer, the devil and a master of the macabre represent the diversity of an elite selection of films recognized for their cultural, historic or aesthetic significance. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced today the annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Selection to the registry will help ensure that these films will be preserved for all time. "The National Film Registry showcases the extraordinary diversity of America's film heritage and the disparate strands making it so vibrant," said Billington. "By preserving these films, we protect a crucial element of American creativity, culture and history."

 

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