15 Delightful Flapper-Era Words for “Awesome”

ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy
ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy / ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy

By Arika Okrent

These amazing examples of flapper slang are pretty terrific.

Slang historians agree that, starting in the early 1920s, a craze for describing something great with an expression in the form of “the ANIMAL’s SOMETHING” unleashed a torrent of creative idioms. While we still occasionally call up the cat’s pajamas or the bee’s knees when we want to express appreciation, there is a long-dormant supply of delightful alternatives we could and should be bringing back. Here are 15 that never should have gone out of style.

1. The Kitten’s Vest

What’s greater than a cat in pajamas? A kitten in a vest!

2. The Caterpillar’s Kimono

Playing off the unlikely nightwear theme, a caterpillar in a kimono!

3. The Ant’s Pants

How about unlikely clothing of any kind? Even better if it rhymes.

4. The Gnu’s Shoes

Better yet if it rhymes with gnu.

5. The Kipper’s Knickers

Even more fun if you say it “kuh-nickers.”

6. The Fly’s Thighs

Unlikely body parts was another popular theme.

7. The Sardine’s Whiskers

Isn’t this one just the sardine’s whiskers?

8. The Snake’s Hips

It gets that wiggle from somewhere.

9. The Elephant’s Instep

An offshoot of the unlikely body parts theme was comically mundane unlikely body parts.

10. The Gnat’s Elbows

Good old mundane elbows.

11. The Clam’s Cuticle

Points for alliteration.

12. The Flea’s Eyebrows

Can’t you see him wiggling them?

13. The Alligator’s Adenoids

The adenoid is a tonsil in the back of the throat, and in the 1920s getting it removed was the thing to do. These days we keep them more and talk about them less.

14. The Turtle’s Neck

Clever combining of the body part and clothing themes.

15. Snugglepup’s Bow-wow

Every cat has a meow, and every snugglepup a bow-wow.