Noirguage: hot (or is that cool) language of the thirties and forties

Posted: June 10, 2010 in Books, Movies

No. your average jasper in the street didn’t talk like this. This was the vigorous earthy language of the private detective novel and films of the times. My favorite? The big sleep, i.e., death (Chandler).

Alderman: A man’s pot belly.

Berries: Dollars

Caboose: Jail

Daylight, as in “let the daylight in” or “fill him with daylight”: Put a hole in, by shooting or stabbing

Eel juice: liquor

Flivver: A Ford automobile

Glad rags: Fancy clothes

Have the bees: To be rich

Hop-head: Drug addict, esp. heroin

Iron: A car

Jasper: A man (perhaps a hick)

Knockover: Heist, theft

Lunger: Someone with tuberculosis

Lead poisoning: To be shot

Mush: Face

Read hundreds more from a fantastic online book: Twists, Slug and Roscoes–A Glossary of Hard-Boiled Slang I came across this glossary several years ago and referenced it many times while reading Raymond Chandler’s books and other detective fiction of the time.

Oh, I almost forgot. I’ve been watching the new DVD editions of the Perry Mason series (I got hooked on these when they ran on TBS a few years ago). These shows have some great lines–to wit…”Faces? I don’t know faces. Faces are like cockroaches; they all look alike…”

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