Slang Over the Decades - 20th Century

During the 20th century the various slang words have changed as the American culture and society have changed. Slang words are words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people.

In the 1920s:

Ritzy was something very fancy.

Blind Date was a date with someone you had never met. Still used today.

Mad Money referred to extra cash for a lady in case she did not have a gentleman to asssit her get home.

Gold-Digger was a woman who was only interested in a man’s money.

Hotsy-totsy referred to everything as OK, having a good time.


A crooner was a great singer.

Boffo referred to a funny show or a very successful show.

Gunky was something dirty or slimy.

Fave referred to something that was short.


Dreamboat meant a very attractive, handsome man.

If you used the phrase Hubba-hubba, it meant a person was very attractive.

Being cheesed off meant you were angry about something.


A nerd was a geek, a square, not an exciting person.

The boondocks were in the middle of nowhere, nothing around no town nearby.

To be cool, you were hip, right for everything good.

Nuke referred to the nuclear bomb, a great fear of the public in the 1950s.


Dullsville referred to a very boring place, meaning a person’s small hometown.

Mickey Mouse related to pretending to do work.

Freak-out describes a bad situation especially relating to the use of drugs.

Bippy referred to one’s backside and used with ‘you bet your bippy’.

Nam was the slag word for Vietnam during the war years.


Guilt trip when someone felt bad about past wrong doings.

Motorhead was a person who loved motorcycles, the bigger the better.

Brewski was another word for beer, the beverage.

Even 2020 there are slang phrases such as ‘D-list‘. You’ve heard of A-list, B-list, and even C-list celebs but where do you go when you need to describe someone below reality TV stars? Straight to the D-list. These are people just famous on Instagram or YouTube with followers.

Photos: A girl in the 1920s in a place having a good time; 1930s crooner-Rudy Vallee; and 1950s nerds.

Related Blogs:

American Slang Words

Forgotten 19th Century Slang

Occupations and Slang Terms

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