We all know you don’t say certain words in public. Or, God forbid, when your mother is in the same room.
Slang is defined as informal speech that’s used in a particular setting or environment, or by people in a particular group. When I was in high school, our slang included the terms groovy, batshit, and way out.
In my current novel, two of the present-day characters have ancestors who lived during Prohibition in the 1920s. Did you know the following terms were coined back then?
Skid row was originally “skid road,” a place where loggers hauled their goods. During Prohibition, these logging roads became meeting places for boodleggers. (Skidding is a logging term for pulling cut trees out of a forest.)
Hooch is an abbreviated form of “hoochinoo,” a distilled beverage from Alaska that became popular during the Klondike gold rush. This idiom was used for low-quality liquor, usually whiskey.
If you had a beef, you had a big problem. If you were given the bum’s rush, you were ejected by force from a drinking establishment. If you had to see a man about a dog, you were explaining in code that you had to leave to go buy bootlegged whiskey. If you were a piker, you were a cheapskate (my father used this term all the time–he was born in 1929).
Here are some other terms coined during Prohibition that we still use today: babe, beat it, carry a torch, tighten the screws, and on the up and up.
One other thing I learned about Prohibition is the huge number of synonyms for drunk that were coined nearly 100 years ago, including:
bleary-eyed, bent, blind, blotto, boiled, boiled as an owl, canned, corked, crocked, four sheets in (or to) the wind, fried, fried to the hat, ginned, half-cocked, half-shot, high, jazzed, lit, loaded, on a toot, ossified, out on the roof, owled, pie-eyed, pickled, plastered, polluted, potted, stinko, soused, stewed, tanked, primed, scrooched, zozzled
What are some of YOUR favorite slang terms?