Mental Floss

25 Legit Words from the Hepcats Jive Talk Dictionary

Meg Boeni /

Long before the uncool could quietly search for the meaning of baffling slang on, they could pay 25 cents for a booklet that promised to teach the “hep” dialect of youth. Hepcats Jive Talk Dictionary was published in 1945, at the height of the swing and jive eras; it might not tell you how to twerk, but only a drip wouldn’t want to advance the spark with this swellelegant little guide. Here are 25 terms from the Cat, some of which are still around and some of which have mercifully fallen out of fashion.

1. Advance the spark: to prepare.

2. Apron: the bartender.

3. Barkers: a pair of shoes.

4. Bucket from Nantucket: an individual who is a heavy drinker.

5. Butter: insincerity; B.S.

6. Canary: a female vocalist.

7. Clambake: a jive music session.

8. Drip: an undesirable person.

9. Exodust: to flee, make tracks, beat a retreat.

10. Flip the grip: to shake hands.

11. Fried: surpassingly drunk.

12. Got your boots on: hep to the jive.

13. Hep to: well-informed; firmly ensconced in the echelon of cool kids.

14. Homey: a person from one’s home town.

15. Hustler: would-be playboy or woman.

16. Idea pot: the head.

17. In and outer: the door.

18. Legit: the real thing.

19. Lothario from Ontario: a fast worker or charmer.

20. Murder: to reach perfection.

21. Plungeroo: a pinball-playing addict, e.g. Tommy.

22. Scratch: folding or paper money.

23. Side arms: cream and sugar. An example of “G.I. Jive” or military slang.

24. Storked: expecting a “blessed event”; pregnant.

25. Swellelegant: wonderful, marvelous.