Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Wednesday's Random Slang-o-rama: 1940s slang (by guest author Camille Minichino)

Please welcome good buddy and guest Slang-o-rama blogger, Camille Minichino. Camille is the author of 28 mystery novels in 5 series, plus many short stories and articles. All her names, blogs, and publications can be found at Her latest, “Murphy’s Slaw” is available here.


Over the years, a coffee order went from a cuppa mud (1940) to a venti, decaf iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk or a grande, quad, nonfat, one-pump, no-whip, mocha (yesterday).

How did this come about? Sorry, that’s above my pay grade.

Oops, an inadvertent segue into a phrase that has its origin in the military, when each rank had a certain pay. Above each pay grade, solutions were someone else’s problem.

Here are other words and phrases that date to the forties or thereabouts.

  • beef, as in “I have a beef with you.” Goes back to the Old West and arguments over grazing land for cows. 
  • hold a candle to, as in “His writing can’t hold a candle to Ann Parker’s.” Stems from a time when an apprentice was expected to hold the candle so a more experienced worker would be able to see what she was doing.
  • gobbledygook: Origin: The New York Times, May 21, 1944. How’s that for on the nose*? A Texas lawyer/congressman coined the word to indicate the obscure language being used by his colleagues, imitating the gobble of a turkey.
  • on the nose: From the early days of radio broadcasting. The theory is that it came from the engineer in the control room who would place a finger on his nose as a signal that the program was running on schedule.
  • through the wringer: Give someone a hard time, from the old washing machine part. Would my eleven-year-old grandniece know what this is?

Since I don’t want to stiff you (from 1939 restaurant workers, because dead people pay no tips!), I’m including a long list of 1940s slang, lingo, and phrases.

How about phrases that originated in the 21st century? Many abbreviations!

FAQ: 1982 (earliest year of use, not total Scrabble points)

Who has time for a 3-word phrase, or a 4-syllable word? So we have:

  • convo for conversation (an application (applo?) of the older demo and info).
  • retweet: Not just for Twitter anymore. It stands for I agree with you.
  • boomer: Originally those born between 1946 and 1964, but now used for “old,” like geezer (not cool, in dis-guise (geez)).

What? You haven’t had enough? NP. Here are 110 texting acronyms. Imagine—we now have 109 more acronyms than in the days when ASAP ruled the roost (self-explanatory).

TY to Ann for sharing her blog space. TTYL.


Liz V. said...


IHA :')

Ann Parker said...

Hi-de-ho, Camille! What a lulu of a post! You're a hotshot in my book! Thank you for your Slang-o-rama contribution! :-)

Camille Minichino said...

Oh how we can get carried away! And I didn't even delve into '50s songs like Bippety Boppety Boo and Hot Diggity Dog.

Now, get those songs out of your head!


Carole Price said...

Holly Moses! That was fun but they sure aged me.