Hepcats Jive Talk DictionaryLou Shelley in 1945 published the 'Hepcats Jive Talk Dictionary' with publishing company The T.W.O. Charles Company in Derby, Connecticut. The dictionary is broken up into the following categories Jive Words, Jive Phrases, Jeographical Jive and G.I. Jive. The dictionary provides insight into the lingo/slang/dialect spoken in a time gone by, by the greats like Frank Sinatra and Cab Calloway. It is also relevant to note that Cab Calloway in 1940 had a Hepster Dictionary. Cab Calloway's Hepster Dictionary would accompany his sheet music. If you would like to read some more and have some fun with some of the lingo then a list can be found by clicking here. And Just in case you were wondering what a Hepcat was - it is a word that was used to describe a cool person from the 40s who understands and speaks 'jive' talk.

We have to note that and wonder had this dictionary been written today, would it have been published today?

So, I guess this serves as a warning to all that should you continue to read this blog post or further investigate the Jive Talk,  you may be quite amazed, have a laugh or the complete opposite you may be disgusted, ashamed or even offended. It isn't all exactly politically correct by todays standards. You will however become aware of some of the words and phrases that have remained with our population throughout the decades. The one thing we personally enjoyed was being able to have some fun with the words and phrases and create our own sentences using Jive Talk, even asking questions. So, maybe treat this simply, just read and not take too seriously, have some fun and enjoy a piece of our history without over analysing as you may have a laugh and it may just brighten your day.

Okay, we have kept you waiting long enough, here is a short list of just a few words to have some fun with and wonder:



Airbags - lungs
Alligator - a jitterbug
Apron - counter-man or bar-tender


Bank - a toilet
Barkers - pair of shoes
Beat - worn out
Beef - a complaint
Bone - dollar bill
Boogieman - a jiving male
B.T.O. - big time operator
Buzz - to kiss C

Cabbage - money
Canary - girl vocalist
Cat - jive musician
Chick - young girl
Chippie - glamour girl
Clambake - a jive session
Cooch - muscle dancer
Curtains - the end


Dig - to think hard or understand
Dotmaker - musical arranger
Dust - to leave


Easy - financially secure
Expense - a baby
Eye - detective



Flip the grip - shake hands
First 30 - month of January
Fish Hooks - your fingers


Gabble Gather - a hen party
Gas pipe - trombone
Got your boots on - Hep to the jive


Hard Spiel - convincing conversation
Having a ball - having a hectic time
Hep to - well informed
House without chairs - Dance hall


Idea pot - the head
In and outer - the door
In the groove - perfect timing


Jive cutter - Modern dancer
Jive Floor - Where the hepcats dance
Jive Jargon - Language of the hepcats
Joe Blow - musician who swings
Joints Jumping - everybody's having fun



Lucky from Kentucky - a favourite


Open mirth from Leavenworth - Jail comedian
Climber from Lima - second story burglar
Phil from Louisville - Doctor M

Brain from Maine - wise guy
Swing sway from Mandalay - Cooch dancer
Little Joe from Mexico - Greaser


Bucket from Nantucket - heavy drinker
Small time tell from New Rochell - squealer
Big fork from New York - heavy eater
Style from Nile - Greek costume
P.D. from Normandy - old song


Presser from Odessa - Tailor
O Ma from Omaha - motherly woman
Lothario from Ontario - Fast worker



Pencil pusher - clerk
Pick up your brass - get out of the way
Punk - bread


Rain room - bath house
Rise and shine - call used to awaken soldiers
Roll up your flaps - stop talking
Runner - a messenger


Sand and dirt - salt and pepper
Seagull - chicken
Side Arms - cream and sugar
Shutters - sleeping pills
Snap to - come to attention
Spin On - To get excited


Take off - to leave at a high rate of speed
Taxi up - come here
Throw the book - give maximum punishment
Turn 'em over - start engines


Uncle Sam's Party - payday


Whoofin - to tell an improbable yarn
Wooden - dense, dull, slow


Yard bird - a raw recruit
Yearling - selectee
You're gigged - means that one has been reported for violating a rule or regulation


We hope you had a laugh and enjoyed the words and phrases from an era gone by or has it?




1) The Cab Calloway Jive Talk, http://www.artofmanliness.com/2008/09/25/are-you-hep-to-the-jive-the-cab-calloway-hepster-dictionary/
2) Hard Spiel and Hidey Ho: Cab Calloway's Hepsters Dictionary (1940), http://chriscocca.com/2011/02/08/hard-speil-and-hidey-ho-cab-calloways-hepsters-dictionary-1940/
3) The Hepcats Jive Dictionary, http://www.scribd.com/doc/57707658/Hepcats-Jive-Dictionary
4) Lindy Lingo, http://www.dancestore.com/glossary-lindy-lingo.aspx
5) Retrospace - The Hepcats Jive Dictionary, http://my-retrospace.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/vintage-reads-29-hepcats-jive.html