As the co-host of radio program “A Way with Words,” Grant Barrett knows a thing or two about slang. And while Barrett loves learning about new words, old words can be just as fun and in some cases, even more entertaining.
“One of the things I like to do to keep up with language is actually see how much it’s changed,” Barrett said.
In his research, he recently found an article from a 1901 St. Louis newspaper. The headline read “A Dictionary of Everyday 20th Century Slang,” and contained all sorts of interesting words.
“A lot of it has to do with the seedier side of life,” Barrett said.
Barrett said there’s some slang in this article that needs to be make a comeback, and provided some his favorites.
Benny : An overcoat. Thieves’ slang.
Biscuit Shooter: Restaurant slang for a waiter or waitress, usually a second-rate one.
Blankets: A new suit of clothes, as in, "Check out my new pair of blankets."
Cut some ice: To be above mediocrity. "This horse can cut some ice."
Cabbage: A bad cigar.
Chirp: To tattle or nark. Synonyms: to squeal, peach, gas, Miss Nancy, let out, tip off, and snitch.
Cush: Legal tender of all kinds. Synonyms: lucre, the necessary, dust, dorine, dough, stuff, lengthy green, pile, yellow.
Dial: A countenance, face, or mug.
False alarm: A pretentious person who does not fulfill promises.
Glad rags: Best clothes.
Glims: Spectacles, glasses. Synonyms: peepers, window panes, or lamps.
Hot cup of tea: Somebody who meets all the requirements.
Hard-boiled facts: statistics or irrefragable statements.
Kidneys: Grit, courage.
Nibs, his nibs, your nibs, royal nibs: A person, in a mocking way.
N.G.: No Good. This was almost as common as the abbreviation OK.
On a skate: Intoxicated.
Strain or stretch the blanket: To exaggerate or lie.
Upper story: Brain or cranium.
Walk chalk: To follow precedent and instructions; to move in a straight line morally and physically.
Wind pusher: A hot-air merchant.