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1930's phrases

Posted by ESC on March 12, 2001

In Reply to: 1930's phrases posted by Brian Raney on March 12, 2001

: : Hey! Does anybody know any popular phrases, words, slogans, or meanings that came out of the 30's? I'm doing a project for school and can't find any. If you know of any please e-mail me. It would be greatly appreciated.

: The only one new that comes to mind that I heard recently was "You and me is Jake" or "something not Jake, here." I not sure who "Jake" was but he must of inspired some sort of respect in his name.

: A "Twist" was sometimes a name for a prostitute or any woman known for her ability to twist men around her finger.

: "Take it on the heel and toe," was slang for asking someone to leave; same as "get lost" is today.

: "That mouse was quite a dish," might be said if someone was describing a hot date.

: Hope it helps.

From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976): "Depression terms included "Apple Annies" and "Apple Marys," who "sold apples on street corners" to feed their families.In 1932 everyone was talking about the Bonus Army, 1,000 unemployed World War I veterans and their families who in May marched on Washington to demand immediate payment of bonus certificates granted in 1933 new shantytowns were called "Hoovervilles".Many popular songs reflected poverty and unemployment.'Brother Can You Spare a Dime'...Other songs tried to cheer everyone up, as 'Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,' 'Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries'.".

From "20th Century Words: The Story of New Words in English Over the Last 100 Years" by John Ayto (Oxford University Press, New York, 1999).During the 30s, the there were several new words and phrases in the area of war/build-up to war, transport, and film and entertainment. Some examples from Mr. Ayto's book:

affirmative action positive action by employers to ensure that minority groups aren't discriminated against.

arms race competition between unfriendly nations or groups in accumulation and development of weapons.

baby-sitter , noun. (The verb "baby-sit" wasn't used until 1947.)

bingo a game.

Blitzkrieg a sudden attack.

bra , shortened from brassiere.


burger for hamburger, a term used since 1889.

café society group of people who frequent fashionable restaurants, night clubs and resorts.

cat for a jazz enthusiast or performer. Hep-cat .

civil defense civilians working to preserve lives during air raids.

commercial , TV or radio advertisement.

cool , term of approval

crooner male singer like Bing Crosby. The "rock stars" of their day.

drive-in .


drunk driving

dumb down

dustbowl , region subject to drought, particularly parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

end, the , the limit of what can be endured. "Donald, you are the absolute end."


family planning , birth control or contraception.

fave , favorite.

feel up , grope, make out.

four-letter word , obscene word.

gay adj. For homosexual.

germ warfare

groovy adj. In the groove performing well.

Lindy hop , a dance.

New Deal , program of social and economic reform under the Roosevelt administration.

nickelodeon , a machine that played selected records for a coin; a type of jukebox.

Oscar , given by the Academy of Motion picture Arts and Sciences.

pen-friend, pen pal, , a friend via letters.

pizza , an Italian food.

polio , a disease.


record player

seat belt

soap opera , a radio or TV serial dealing with domestic situations.

spacecraft .

Superman , a comic strip hero.


Suzie-Q , a dance.

testosterone , male hormone.

toots , term of address, usually to a woman.

up-tight , in a state of nervousness.

video coined as a visual equivalent of audio .