Underworld Lingo

     Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 12, 2017
     Category: Crime | Languages | 1930s

I knew most of those! Of course, it helps that I hear that lingo several times a week -- a large part of my DVD collection is 1930s-40s comedy crime movies like Larceny, Inc. (1942), A Slight Case of Murder (1938), and The Mad Miss Manton (1938).
Posted by Phideaux on 06/12/17 at 12:58 PM
It has been my observation that these lists are something concocted to take up space. Really, who talks like that? 😛
Posted by KDP on 06/12/17 at 05:05 PM
@KDP -- "Really, who talks like that?" Bogart, Cagney, Robinson . . .
Posted by Phideaux on 06/12/17 at 07:23 PM
@Phideaux...so, script writers (who didn't talk like that), writing for Mr. and Mrs. Average Moviegoer (who also didn't talk like that)? That's probably true, but only in the same sense that modern Crips and Bloods talk like Eminem.
Posted by Keith Elliott on 06/13/17 at 02:30 AM
@KDP -- It wasn't made from whole cloth: some people, in some places, actually used the terms, at times. It was poetic license to pile a lot of it into dialogue, ignoring regional usage.

It's not that odd to hear someone say they beat the rap, they got fingered, or they know a hooker, all of which are in the list above.

If you look at lists of marijuana lingo in the 1930s-40s, you'll see a lot of words commonly used today -- walk around Denver, and you'll hear people call it weed or pot, smoke joints or blunts, and still get zonked or wasted. And don't forget that the 1940s term for a makeshift roach holder became the name of a great band in the 1960s!
Posted by Phideaux on 06/13/17 at 10:21 PM
And then there's Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, still available on Project Gutenberg.
Posted by Richard Bos on 06/14/17 at 12:29 PM
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