In much of the world, the 1920s roared with post-war prosperity. Youth culture became a driving force with its penchant for promiscuity, rejection of Prohibition and devotion to all things jazz. Meanwhile, Charles Lindbergh piloted the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic; Howard Carter unearthed the tomb of Tutankhamen; and Warner Bros. brought sound, and then speech, to the cinema.
Here in Canada, while Banting and Best discovered insulin, the Group of Seven drew inspiration from the wilderness to produce some of our most recognizable and beloved works of art. It wouldn't be all glamour and discovery, though: the twenties also saw the outbreak of war in Ireland, Central and Eastern Europe and Turkey; the rise of communism and fascism; and the crash of the stock market. With so much going on, it's no wonder so many colourful expressions came out of the twenties.
Definition: stunt flyer
Definition: jazz musician or person with an appreciation for the genre
Definition: affluent man Note: This would be said of a man who could afford to buy his sweetheart butter, eggs and anything else she desired.
Definition: hair salon, particularly one specializing in the bob hairstyle (evenly short all around) Synonym: bobber shop Related terms: Eton crop (very short, boyish woman's haircut), shingle (short, blunt woman's haircut)
Definition: supplier of illegal liquor Note: In the Colonial era, traders smuggled liquor in their tall boot legs. Synonyms: boozeheister, pour-out ma
Definition: party Synonyms: drag, rub, struggle, work out
crab the wind
Definition: steer a plane by flying sideways into the wind Note: The term alludes to the image of the crab's sideways walk.
Definition: illegal drinking place or a gambling den that changes location nightly Synonyms: blind pig, blind tiger, booze foundry, gin mill, gin palace, jinny, moonlight inn, sample room, scatter, speakeasy, whoopee parlour
Definition: studious person Synonym: grind Related terms: skulldragging (intense studying), stay in the buggy (keep studying)
Definition: kissing or other romantic behaviour Synonym: pitching woo
Definition: alcohol Synonyms: hooch (still in use), nose paint
great on the shindig
Definition: expression used in reference to a very good dancer Related terms: march, rag, struggle, wrestle (different names for dance)
Definition: female gangster
Definition: engagement ring Related terms: speak piece (propose marriage); send to the showers, show the gate, give the air (reject marriage proposal)
Definition: enthusiastic about
Definition: inferior person Note: Many food words were used to describe different types of people, including biscuit (licentious young woman), egg (someone who let his girl pay her own admission to a dance), sardine or smelt (girl), and tomato (attractive young woman who liked to dance).
Definition: short, baggy men's pants that fit tightly below the knee Related terms: plus-fours (similar garment but even baggier), Oxford bags (wide, full-length men's trousers)
Definition: fly as a passenger Note: Also refers to a dance.
Rock of Ages
Definition: woman over the age of 30 Related term: Father Time (male equivalent)
Definition: aircraft, such as a balloon or dirigible, kept aloft by gas
Definition: gunman Synonyms: rod, torpedo Related terms: gat, heater, long rod, roscoe (names for different types of guns)
Definition: flowing women's trousers outfit, often worn with a turban