Slang was pervasive in the 1920’s, and much of the vernacular was positively delightful! Here are some terms used in my “Mrs. Lillywhite Investigates” and the “Red Door Speakeasy” mystery series.


Bluenose — a priggish or puritanical person
Bootlegging — the illegal manufacture, distribution, or sale of goods, especially alcohol
Bump Off — to murder someone
Bum’s Rush — ejection by force
Choice bit of calico — a desirable woman
Copacetic — wonderful, fine, in excellent order
Dumb Dora — an unintelligent woman
Giggle water — liquor, alcoholic beverage
Half-seas over — drunk
Juice joint — a speakeasy
Know One’s Onions – know what one is talking about
Level with me — be honest
Moonshine — bootleg alcohol
Rum running — transportation of illegal alcohol
Sitting pretty — in a great position
Speakeasy — Irish word to describe an illicit, undercover bar selling bootleg liquor
Teetotaler — A person who abstains from the consumption of alcohol


CLICK HERE for British English terms