Can You Use These Century-Old Slang Words in a Sentence?

By: Mariana Sabino

Can You Use These Century-Old Slang Words in a Sentence?
Image: H. Armstrong Roberts / Retrofile RF / Getty Images

About This Quiz

To describe the early twentieth-century as an eventful, colorful time is like saying the ocean's kind of big. Um, sure it is. Every doofus knows that, right? Not that we have anything against doofuses, mind you. In fact, we think they're pretty dilly. 

When we mention the last century, we're thinking of a hodgepodge of new words and expressions introduced by the cultural and countercultural revolutions of the time. These words, fresh as a daisy then, made their way into the vocabulary of regular people. Gangsters, freeloaders, dapper folks and service officers all had their say. 

Although we're pretty sure you're familiar with many of these words, there might be a quite a few you missed. This quiz will not only test your knowledge of century-old lingo but may also show you which words are worth including in your daily vocab. In case you haven't heard, old slang is a doozy! 

Also, just because something has gone out of style doesn't mean you can't bring it back. Old-fashioned words are full of pizzazz! Maybe you're just the one to revive the nifty words your grandparents used, and be able to summon Al Capone ack emma or any time. We bet your friends will be impressed and amused. 

Curious? We thought you'd be. By the time you're finished, you'll be ready to put your glad rags on and take your lulu out for a spin. Ready? Let's get started!



"Steam up" would be said when?
Her steam up clock is broken.
Show me how the steam up dance goes.
There simply isn't enough steam up trains nowadays.
Oh, don't steam up, honey. I didn't mean to step on your foot again.
Not to be confused with steamy, which delves into an entirely different territory, the image of steam captures the term "steam up" well. Something usually steams before it boils over, such as one's nerves. When someone gets really riled up, all that huffing and puffing can make it seem like there's steam coming out of their ears.

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How would you say "flick" to someone?
There's a flick in my hat.
There's no point in taking a flick to the movies.
Who told you she painted a flick today?
He asked me out to see an artsy flick, so I had to tell him I'd rather watch paint dry.
In the early days of film screenings, the images flickered a little from frame to frame. This, in turn, may account for the spread of the word flick to mean film. There's also a raunchier version of flick called a skinflick.

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"Rinky-dink," you distinctly say. How so?
She keeps inviting me to that rinky-dink place over there, but really, it's so beneath me.
Say you want to belittle someone's enterprise. You might call it a rinky-dink establishment in the boondocks, a venture so insignificant you don't even care to mention it, let alone go there. That's not very nice now, is it?
You've got a rinky-dink phone call coming in.
He's got a rinky-dink in the trunk.
To lose weight, you must jump rinky-dinks.

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When would you say "glad rags?"
Frank says he's glad rags.
Spread glad rags on the table.
There are no glad rags to wash the dishes.
Get out of those frumpy clothes and put your glad rags on, baby! We're going out!
If you are wearing your glad rags, you're sure dressed up to the nines! Sunday best with a little more glamour, more pizzazz, so you can show up at a party and foxtrot until dawn. You're ready to impress anyone in sight and then some.

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"Fast one," eh? What do you mean?
Watch out or else he'll pull a fast one on you before you know it.
If you're pulling a fast one on someone, you're probably so swift and sly at your deception/cheating game that your victim won't see it coming. You have to be fast, of course, to fool someone without them having noticed a thing.
The car was a fast one.
Tell her to go to the fast one for the cure.
Fast one, fast two, and fast three will go around the bend.

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When you think of a "copper," what do you think of?
Beat those eggs in the copper and add sugar.
Could you please put the copper on the table?
Don't get nasty or I'll call one of those darn coppers!
You wouldn't want to be called a copper in the early part of the twentieth century, but nowadays being called a cop, a shortened version of copper, is just fine by most police officers. Time has really taken the sting out of being called a copper.
Do you have a copper?

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When you use "cushy," how do you use it?
Life's so unfair. She's got a cushy job and a trust fund.
Linked to cushions, if you have a cushy position you're pretty comfortable without actually having to do much. No sweat, no discomfort, no major hassles to deal with. Cushions really do absorb any hardness while propping you up.
He's getting kind of cushy.
My face is so cushy.
There are two cushy films playing tonight.

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Something's a "doozy," you say. What do you say exactly?
I've seen many splendid cars today, but this one is a doozy
Possibly an altered form of daisy, if something or someone is called a doozy it means it's really special (for better or worse). And who doesn't want to be a doozy in someone else's eyes? Even though something bizarre can be called a doozy, it's still an original, a stand-out.
You've got to give a doozy.
My dog ate the doozy.
Yuck, I've got doozy on my teeth!

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If you say "jinx," what do you say?
I can't fit into my jinx anymore.
There's nothing like a jinx over ice.
Rolling with laughter over here. You're such a jinx!
They say if he stares at you for one second too long, all your plans will be jinxed for seven years.
Linked to witchcraft, you'd better cross your fingers to keep your good luck and not have your plans jinxed. If someone puts a jinx on you, call Sabrina, your friendly neighbor/witch. She can undo any jinx unless, of course, she's the one who jinxed you in the first place.

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When saying "floozy," what do you say?
There's no telling when floozy coats will come in.
Oh, please, just because I adore red doesn't mean I'm a floozy!
If you were a called a floozy, you probably were perceived as being less than a virgin. In other words, the person was calling you unchaste; however, wearing skirts above the knee was considered very bold and daring back then. Remember, the bikini was named after the site of atomic bomb tests, indicating the stir it caused!
Two floozy rings and you're out.
That's a floozy windowpane.

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When you mention "goof," what would you be saying?
Look at that goof with his rabbit ears and knock-knock jokes.
A goof may be naturally silly or take up the persona to entertain people with their goofy eccentricities. Some people are such goofballs! Put a dingbat, a ditz, and a real goofball together and it's going to be one goofy party!
There's no telling what goof stocks will do.
Will you buy me a goof?
Vintage sale up ahead on the goof.

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You said "rat" in which way?
Listen, Marco, I smell a rat, so don't say nothing around him.
If you're a rat, your ... er, associates may find out and get rid of you before you betray them and turn them in. Invariably, there will be a rat in a gangster flick. Gangsters bump off rats for failing to uphold their code of loyalty. Mum's the word if you're a gangster.
There's a new rat trap.
My cat is very particular about his rat.
Don't dangle the rat.

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Did you say "doofus?" How did you say it?
Don't peel the doofus for the soup.
Doofus is just another word for dangle.
Was there ever a time when you didn't doofus?
So what if everyone says you're a doofus? You're my doofus.
You can really be silly and incompetent in a lovable way, you know? If someone calls you a doofus, they're probably saying it with a smile. Think about it. How can you not enjoy the antics of a doofus? They're memorable, that's for sure.

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Someone heard you say "scram." What were you saying?
Two scrams don't make a right.
There's no scram for me.
I loathe scram on toast.
Listen, birdbrain, I've had enough of you -- scram!
Saying scram to mean "get out of here" now has something quaint and humorous about it. You may use it when joking around with friends. Whether or not they take you seriously is another matter altogether. For emphasis, you can always try 23 Skidoo!

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A "dingbat" would be said in which of these scenarios?
It takes three dingbats to score.
Birds are drawn to dingbats during the mating season.
Dingbats are brilliant fern-loving bats.
Calling an ex in the middle of the night with a fake accent is something a dingbat would do.
If someone calls you a dingbat, they probably think you're endearingly dumb in a silly kind of way. If they say it behind your back, they might already have you pegged as a nitwit. Fret not, they probably like you anyway.

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"Framed," you say? How so?
C'mon, darling, you know I didn't poison your mother. I was framed!
Linked to the early 1920s, using "frame" to mean implicating someone for a crime they didn't commit has been a mainstay in the lexicon of films. Think "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and the entire genre of detective/gangster stories.
What do you mean he framed his foot?
There's nothing worse than a framed hairstyle.
Spare me your framed excuses, Lucy!

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To explain the meaning of "wino" to someone, what do you say?
I told him he'd better cut down on the booze, or else he'll turn into a real wino.
If the thought of someone immediately conjures up an image of their arms around a wine bottle or another kind of liquor, chances are they are a wino. In other words, that person can't get enough of their booze.
There's plenty of wino for sale.
The wino station is close by.
Wino the willow winds two times over.

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When you say "hoosegow," you're saying what exactly?
Show me how to hoosegow a show and I'll marry you.
You need to be pretty sturdy to hoosegow a cow.
There's a hoosegow on the loose.
He's had a few run-ins with the law and is no stranger to the hoosegow.
Sometimes used to refer to jail nowadays, hoosegow is traced to the Spanish word for panel of judges. The story goes that hoosegow is how jugado might have sounded when it was overheard. Whatever the exact origin, it stuck.

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When you said "simp," what were you talking about?
I told him not to be late, so that simp came in four hours earlier.
A variant of the word simpleton, simp is rarely heard nowadays. Whether it be a simp or a simpleton, the term conjures up a lovable fool who is too clueless to pick up on social cues.
Don't expect to simp on my shoulder when you're sad.
There's a simp on your nose!
Simp and run!

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What comes to mind with "easy rider?"
I think I'm going to replace those cushions with an easy rider.
There's nothing like an easy rider over easy ...
Thief! You stole my easy rider!
He sits around here doing nothing all day, and really, I've just about had enough of this easy rider.
The classic hippie road movie "Easy Rider" starring Henry Fonda and Dennis Hopper turns the term on its head, giving it a cool, relaxed, countercultural meaning. The term, as it's defined originally, refers to a pimp or parasitical type of person.

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If you say "shamus," you say what?
That shamus has been taking bribes all over town.
Possibly of Yiddish origin, a shamus refers to a police officer or private detective. Used in a derogatory sense, a shamus is the type of copper who might be friends with a rat. Then again, you never know when one will turn on the other.
It's shamus not to wash your hands.
Too many drinks will make me shamus.
What's with the shamus letter?

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With a "G-man" situation, what are you talking about?
He told me he wasn't G-man enough for me.
Spray some G-man on it and it'll grow wings.
My G-man cape is too short.
You'd better transfer those millions to a Swiss bank account before that G-man comes snooping around here.
Apparently, this term was used to refer to detectives in Ireland. It transferred nicely to the government men of the United States who sniffed around looking for clues. If you think of a G-man, think of a snoop/detective for the government.

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You say "zing." How so?
Donny is nice and all, but I want a relationship with a little more zing!
An onomatopoeia (it sounds like what it is), zing implies zest and that sizzling quality that gives something its oomph. If it's got zing, it has pizzazz. If you've got it, you know it. Zing has an energy all its own and one immediately recognizes it.
I like butter on my zing.
Butter me up with zing candy.
Luke cries like a zing maniac.

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When "dilly" comes to mind, what do you say?
So looking forward to a dilly season in France!
Although dilly may sound silly, it actually means something extraordinary, as in really special and remarkable. Then again, being extraordinarily silly could be dilly for someone who cherishes all things goofy. It's a doozy!
There are two cones in that dilly.
Don't count chickens before dilly.
Frying dilly is greasy, sure, but so yummy.

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In which situation would you say "goldbrick?"
Oh, c'mon, you can't be sick again, goldbrick.
Even though it's associated with deceit or a swindle of some kind, the meaning of goldbrick evolved over time. Originally linked to someone selling bricks as gold, by World War I goldbrick meant anyone who told white lies in order to avoid their duties.
Sally, I found a goldbrick!
Put a goldbrick on top of cement and it'll hold.
There's no goldbrick to go with it.

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"Cough up" can be said in which way?
Bring me my cough up.
Did John tell you how many cough ups he waxed?
She coughed up all over the chair.
She was reluctant to pay, I'll tell ya, so I had to use a little persuasion to make her cough up the dough.
Coughing up means handing over or surrendering something, especially money, when you'd really rather not. It's uncomfortable yet just has to be done after oodles of persuasion. Unsurprisingly, it's often heard in gangster movies.

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"Jim-dandy" would be said by you in which way?
Your van is jim-dandy, man!
It's got to be pretty nifty to be deemed a jim-dandy. It's so sweetly exciting that it has a candy named after it. It may also be used to describe a car with style, even if one's definition of style differs from another's.
Knock it off with your jim-dandy ways.
I like jim-dandy cake.
Jim-dandy called me last night.

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How would you say "23 skidoo" to someone?
Hey, I got a message for you. 23 Skidoo or else you're gonna be in real hot water.
There has been a lot of speculation about the origin of 23 Skidoo. Does 23 refer to an unlucky losing number, a street in New York, or is it just a variant of the word skedaddle? In any case, it's a way to tell someone to get a move on, and make it snappy!
I think I'd like to live at 23 Skidoo Street.
Mike is such a cutie, so I just had to tell him he's 23 Skidoo.
Grandma was already 23 Skidoo by the time she met grandpa.

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How do you mention "blotto?"
She told me to blotto by numbers.
The sun's so bright, you'd better wear blotto.
Don't blotto me anymore, alright?
Hide the bottles! That blotto is coming over.
If you're blotto, you're pretty drunk. This one might have acquired its name from the word blot. When things start to get hazy and confused, blot starts to sound a lot like blotto, doesn't it? Three bottles of wine will get you there.

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What's a fruit salad situation for you?
Fruit salad is code for frilly things.
Too much whipped cream ruins the fruit salad.
She's told me to stop with the fruit salad.
After serving in the military for 30 years, you can't imagine the fruit salad festooning his uniform.
Bearing an abundance of ribbons and medals can conjure up an image of a fruit salad. You get them for serving in the military and serving it well. The ornamental effect of all those medals, with its mix of colors, made someone come up with this playful term.

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"Duck soup" would be said in which of these cases?
I have this way with duck soup.
Please! No nuts in duck soup!
Don't worry. Cinching that deal is duck soup.
Apparently making duck soup is foolproof, easy as pie, you know? You can't mess it up. Whoever came up with it gets the credits for one funny-sounding image. The Marx Brothers thought so. They named one of their films "Duck Soup."
Three strikes and you're duck soup.

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Someone heard you say something quirky involving "gas." What did you say?
Gas and Dass are spry fellows.
She throws the most gas parties ever!
No, we don't mean it in the passing gas sense, although some people find fart jokes hilarious and gas. Gas, you guessed it, means something is considered delightfully fun. If you're having a hard time visualizing the meaning, think of laughing gas.
He's running out of gas jokes.
I’m just so full of gas.

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"Ack emma," you say. What do you mean?
I'm not a morning person, so don't ever call me before 11 ack emma, alright?
Now obsolete, ack emma is traced to a British signaling code in usage around World War I. It then spread to the general population. Ack stands for A and Emma stands for M. Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Pip emma is the P.M. version of it.
I got to bed late, so I'm going to be ack emma tomorrow.
I told him to wash it twice before it turns into an ack emma.
The ack emma is on the first shelf, doofus!

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You were talking about "jake" or something. What did you mean?
He's no jake, but I love him.
There's nothing a jake can't do.
Did you hear about the new jake dance? Dynamite!
Me? It's all going jake for a change.
If everything is jake, you're doing just fine. Everything's cool. And sometimes doing all right is just perfect. No complaints at all. In fact, if someone says that all is jake then there's really nothing to worry about.

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You come out with "lulu" by saying what?
If you have a lulu dress for sale, I'll buy it.
If something (or someone) is lulu, it's really wonderful. You wouldn't want to miss it or part with it. If a woman gets called a lulu, it's a compliment unless, of course, it's said ironically. Still, it's too lulu to carry any real sting.
Too much caffeine will make you lulu.
Don't blame it on the lulu.
Catnip can't be mixed with lulu.

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