Slang Terms Used by Your Grandparents

During the 1910s into the 1950s there were many everyday slang phrases or terms used but now in the 21st century rarely used. These slang phrases might have been very common for your grandparents and should be included in a family history.

Here are a few examples:

In fine fettle –means being in good condition.

Pedal Pushers – were a style of pants worn by ladies in the 1950s. Wearing them made it easier to ride a bicycle.

Shellacking – when you severely beat someone at a game or sport.

Fine kettle of fish – refers to a messy or awkward situation one could find themselves in.

Heavens to Betsy – an expression of shock to something happening.

Don’t touch that dial – refers to telling someone not to change a radio station or a TV channel.

Remember to pull the chain – a reminder that a person using a toilet in the bathroom to flush the toilet. For years indoor toilets had the water tank connected to a long pipe several feet above the toilet seat. To flush you pulled the chain connected to the tank.

Best bib and tucker – a bid was lace front of a man’s shirt and a tucker was the lace around the collar for a lady tucked into her dress. So if you were wearing your best clothes, you have worn your ‘best bib and tucker’.

Fiddlesticks – something that is said to be nonsensical or absurd.

In a pickle – refers to being in a sticky or hard situation.

Knee high to a grasshopper – is a description of a short or small child.

Living the life of Riley – having an easy and careful life, it became a popular phrase with servicemen during World War One and Two.

Horsefeathers – when used you are saying you do not believe what someone is saying.

Don’t take any wooden nickels – mean you might be fooled by someone.

Knucklehead – someone who is acting like a fool.

See you in the funny papers – a way of saying goodbye, see you later.

Send or talk on a phone with older relatives, see how many of these sayings they remember.

Photos: Pedal Pushers of the 1950s; TV with dial knobs in 1950s; a toilet with a high water tank and a pull chain; 1890s ladies’ lace tucker; and a wooden nickel.

Related Blogs:

Quaint Sayings

Familiar Sayings

American Antiquated Phrases

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.