Revised 1939 Edition
- ain't coming on that tab (v)
- won't accept the proposition. Usually abbr. to "I ain't coming."
- apple (n)
- the big town, the main stem, Harlem.
- armstrongs (n)
- musical notes in the upper register, high trumpet notes.
- back (adv)
- the ultra or peak. Ex. "She sang that song back", "He danced back."
- barbecue (n)
- the girl friend, a beauty.
- barrelhouse (adj)
- free and easy.
- battle (n)
- a very homely girl, a crone.
- (1) (adj) tired, exhausted. Ex. "You look beat" or "I feel beat".
(2) lacking anything. Ex. "I am beat for my cash", "I am beat to my socks" (lacking everything).
- beat it out (v)
- play it hot, emphasize the rhythm.
- beatup (n)
- small change. Ex. "Can you lend me a little beatup?"
- beat up the chops (or the gums) (v)
- to talk, converse, be loquacious.
- beef (v)
- to say, to state. Ex. "He beefed to me that, etc."
- bible (n)
- the gospel truth. Ex. "It's the bible!"
- black (n)
- black and tan (n)
- dark and light colored folks. Not colored and white folks as erroneously
- blues and grays (n)
- colored and white folks.
- blip (n)
- something very good. Ex. "That's a blip", "She's a blip".
- blow the top (v)
- to be overcome with emotion (delight). Ex. "You'll blow your top when you
hear this one".
- (1) harmony with accented bass. (2) a new dance introduced at the Cotton
Club in 1938.
- break it up (v)
- to win applause, to stop the show.
- bree (n)
- bright (n)
- bring down
- (1) (n) something depressing. Ex. "That's a bring down". (2) (v) Ex. "That
brings me down".
- buddy ghee (n)
- bush (n)
- weed, reefers, marijuana.
- bust your conk (v)
- apply yourself diligently, break your neck.
- canary (n)
- girl vocalist.
- cat (n)
- musician in swing band.
- chick (n)
- clambake (n)
- ad lib session, every man for himself, a jam session not in the groove.
- collar (v)
- to get, to obtain, to comprehend. Ex. "I gotta collar me some food", "Do
you collar this jive?"
- come again
- try it over, do better than you are doing, I don't understand you.
- comes on like gang busters (or like test pilot) (v)
- playing, singing, or dancing in a terrific manner, par-excellence in any
department. Sometimes abbr. to "That singer really comes on!"
- cooling (v)
- laying off between engagements, not working.
- cop (v)
- to get, to obtain (see collar and knock).
- corny (adj)
- old fashioned, stale.
- crept out like the shadow (v)
- "comes on", but in smooth, suave, sophisticated manner.
- cubby (n)
- room, flat, home.
- cups (n)
- sleep. Ex. "I gotta catch some cups".
- cut (v)
- to outclass, be superior to. Ex. "That trumpet player cuts them all!"
- cut out (v)
- to leave, to depart. Ex. "It's time to cut out", "I cut out from the joint
in the early bright".
- cut rate (n)
- a low, cheap person. Ex. "Don't play me cut rate, Jack!"
- dicty (adj)
- high class, nifty, smart.
- dig (v)
- (1) meet. Ex. "I'll plant you now and dig you later". (2) look, see. Ex.
"Dig the chick on your left duke". (3) comprehend, understand. Ex. "Do you
dig this jive?"
- dillinger (n)
- a killer-diller, too hot to handle.
- dime note (n)
- ten dollar bill.
- doghouse (n)
- bass fiddle.
- doss (n)
- sleep. Ex. "I'm a little beat for my doss".
- dracula (n)
- something in a class by itself.
- drape (n)
- suit of clothes, dress, costume.
- dry goods (n)
- same as a drape.
- dry long so
- fate, or "that's life", or "just like that".
- duke (n)
- hand, mitt.
- early black (n)
- early bright (n)
- evil (adj)
- in ill humor, in nasty temper.
- fall out (v)
- to be overcome with emotion. Ex. "The cats fell out when he took that solo".
- faust (n)
- an ugly girl, a hag (see battle).
- fews and two (n)
- money or cash in small quantity.
- final (v)
- to leave, to go home. Ex. "I finaled to my pad" (went to bed), "We coped
a final" (went home).
- fine dinner (n)
- a good looking girl.
- focus (v)
- to look, to see.
- fraughty issue (n)
- a very sad message, a deplorable state of affairs.
- frame (n)
- the body.
- freeby (n)
- no charge, gratis. Ex. "The meal was a freeby".
- frisking the whiskers (v)
- what the cats do when they are warming up for a swing session.
- frompy (adj)
- a frompy queen is a battle or faust.
- fruiting (v)
- fickle, fooling around with no particular object.
- gate (n)
- a male person (a salutation), abbr. for "gate-mouth".
- gauge (n)
- intoxication, when you set your gate you get "high" or intoxicated. "Dry
gauge" is the weed, reefers.
- get in there (an exclamation)
- go to work, get busy, make it hot, give all you've got.
- glims (n)
- the eyes.
- got your boots on
- you know what it is all about, you are a hep cat, you are wise.
- got your glasses on
- you are ritze or snooty, you fail to recognize your friends, you are up-stage.
- gravy (n)
- growl (n)
- vibrant notes from a trumpet.
- gutbucket (adj)
- low-down music.
- hard (adj)
- fine, good Ex. "That's a hard tie you're wearing".
- have a ball (v)
- to enjoy yourself, stage a celebration. Ex. "I had myself a ball last night".
- hep cat (n)
- a guy who knows all the answers, understands jive.
- hide-beater (n)
- a drummer (see skin-beater).
- high (adj)
- intoxicated (by liquor or marijuana). Ex. "He was as high as a Georgia pine".
- hincty (adj)
- conceited, snooty.
- hip (adj)
- wise, sophistocated, anyone with boots on. Ex. "She is a hip chick".
- home-cooking (n)
- something very nice, (see fine dinner).
- hot (adj)
- musically torrid; before swing, tunes were hot or bands were hot.
- icky (n)
- one who is not hip, a stupid person, can't collar the jive.
- igg (v)
- to ignore someone. Ex. "Don't igg me!"
- in the groove (adj)
- perfect, no deviation, down the alley.
- jack (n)
- name for all male friends (see gate and pops).
- (1) (n) improvised swing music. Ex. "that's swell jam". (2) (v) to play such
music. Ex. "That cat surely can jam".
- jeff (n)
- a pest, a bore, an icky.
- jelly (n)
- anything free, on the house.
- jitter bug (n)
- a swing fan; formerly a person addicted to "jitter sauce" (liquor).
- (1) (n) Harlemese speech or lingo; also stuff and things. Ex. "did you bring
the jive (liquor?" (2) (v) to kid along, to blarney, to give a girl a line.
Ex. "He can jive his way into any chick's heart".
- joint is jumping
- the place is lively, the club is leaping with fun.
- kill me (v)
- show me a good time, send me.
- killer-diller (n)
- a great thrill.
- knock (v)
- to obtain (see collar). Ex. "I'm gonna knock me some food".
- kopasetic (adj)
- absolutely okay, the tops.
- land o'darkness (n)
- latch on (v)
- grab, take hold, get wise to.
- lay some iron (v)
- to tap dance. Ex. "Jack, you really laid some iron that last show!"
- lamp (v)
- to see, to look at.
- lane (n)
- a male, usually a non-professional.
- lay your racket (v)
- to jive, to sell an idea, to promote a proposition.
- lead sheet (n)
- a top coat.
- left raise (n)
- left side. Ex. "Dig the chick on your left raise".
- licking the chops (v)
- see frisking the whiskers
- licks (n)
- hot musical phrases.
- light up (v)
- to smoke a reefer or weed.
- lily whites (n)
- bed sheets.
- line (n)
- cost, price, money. Ex. "What is the line on this drape". (how much does
this suit cost)?, "Have you got the line in the mouse" (do you have the cash
in your pocket)? (Also, in replying all figures are doubled. Ex. "This drape
is line forty" (this suit costs twenty dollars).
- locked up
- to acquire something exclusively. Ex. "He's got that chick locked up", "I'm
gonna lock up that deal".
- main kick (n)
- the stage.
- main on the hitch (n)
- main queen (n)
- favorite girl friend, sweetheart.
- man in gray (n)
- the postman.
- mellow (adj)
- all right, fine. Ex. "That's mellow, Jack".
- mess (n)
- something good. Ex. "That last drink was a mess".
- meter (n)
- quarter, twenty five cents.
- mezz (n)
- anything supreme, genuine. Ex. "This is really the mezz".
- mitt pounding (n)
- mouse (n)
- pocket. Ex. "I've got a meter in the mouse".
- muggin' (v)
- making 'em laugh, putting on the jive. "Muggin lightly", (light staccato
swing); "Muggin heavy", (heavy staccato swing).
- murder (n)
- something excellent or terrific. Ex. "That's solid murder, gate!"
- naipes (n)
- a lane, gate (sepian reversed).
- neigho pops
- nothing doing, pal.
- nickelette (n)
- automatic phonograph, music box.
- nickel note (n)
- five dollar bill.
- nix out (v)
- to eliminate, get rid of. Ex. "I nixed that chick out last week", "I nixed
my garments" (undressed).
- nod (n)
- sleep. Ex. "I think I'll cop a nod".
- ofay (n)
- white person.
- off time jive (n)
- a sorry excuse, saying the wrong thing.
- off the cob (adj)
- corny, out of date.
- orchestration (n)
- an overcoat.
- out of the world (adj)
- perfect rendition. Ex. "That sax chorus was out of the world".
- an exclamation with varied meaning. When a beautiful chick passes by, it's
"Ow!", and when someone pulls an awful pun, it also is "Ow!"
- pad (n)
- pecking (n)
- a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1937.
- peola (n)
- a light person, almost white.
- peppermint candy (n)
- sweets following a reefer session, (use of weed creates a craving for sugar).
- pigeon (n)
- a young girl.
- pink (n)
- a white person.
- pops (n)
- salutation for all males (see gate and Jack).
- pounders (n)
- queen (n)
- a beautiful girl.
- rank (v)
- to lower.
- ready (adj)
- 100 per cent in every way. Ex. "That fried chicken was ready".
- reefer (n)
- marijuana cigarette, the weed, the bush.
- ride (v)
- to swing, to keep perfect tempo in playing or singing.
- riff (n)
- hot lick, musical phrase.
- righteous (adj)
- splendid, okay, Ex. "That was a righteous queen I dug you with last black".
- roach (n)
- butt of a partially smoked reefer cigarette.
- rock me (v)
- send me, kill me, move me with rhythm.
- ruff (n)
- quarter, twenty five cents.
- rug cutter (n)
- a very good dancer, an active jitterbug.
- sad (adj)
- very bad. Ex. "That was the saddest meal I ever collared".
- sailing (v)
- intoxicated, high.
- salty (adj)
- angry, ill-tempered.
- send (v)
- to arouse the emotions (joyful). Ex. "That sends me!"
- set of seven brights (n)
- one week.
- sharp (adj)
- neat, smart, tricky. Ex. "That hat is as sharp as a tack".
- shim-sham-shimmy (n)
- a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1930.
- signifying (v)
- to declare yourself, to brag, to boast.
- slave (v)
- to work, whether arduous labor or not.
- slide your jib (v)
- to talk freely.
- so help me
- it's the truth, that's fact.
- skin-beater (n)
- drummer (see hide-beater).
- skin (n)
- solid (adj)
- great, swell ,okay.
- square (n)
- an un-hip person( see icky and jeff)
- stache (v)
- to file, to hide away, to secrete.
- stand one up (v)
- play one cheap, to assume one is cut-rate.
- stick (n)
- a reefer cigarette.
- susie-q (n)
- a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1936.
- take it slow (v)
- be careful.
- take off (v)
- play a solo.
- tea (n)
- marijuana, reefers, the bush.
- teapad (n)
- a place to smoke the weed.
- threads (n)
- suit, dress, or costume (see drape and dry-goods).
- tick (n)
- minutes, moments. Ex. "I'll dig you in a few ticks". Also, ticks are doubled
in accounting time, just as money is doubled in giving "line". Ex. "I finaled
to the pad this early bright at tick twenty" (I got to bed this morning at
- togged to the bricks
- dressed to kill, from head to foot.
- too much (adj)
- term of the highest praise. Ex. "You are too much!"
- trickeration (n)
- struttin' your stuff, muggin' lightly and politely.
- trilly (v)
- to leave, depart. Ex. "Well, I guess I'll trilly".
- truck (v)
- to go somewhere. Ex. "I think I'll truck on down to the gin-mill (bar)".
- trucking (n)
- a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1933.
- twister to the slammer (n)
- the key to the door.
- two cents (n)
- two dollars.
- unhip (adj)
- not wise to the jive, an icky, a jeff, a square.
- viper (n)
- one who smokes reefers, a tea-hound.
- v-8 (n)
- a chick who spurns company, is independent, is not amenable.
- what's your story?
- what do you want, what have you got to say for yourself, how are tricks,
or what excuse can you offer? Ex. "I don't know what his story is."
- weed (n)
- marijuana, reefers.
- whipped up (adj)
- worn out, exhausted, beat for your everything.
- wren (n)
- a chick, a queen.
- wrong riff
- saying or doing the wrong thing. Ex. "You're coming up on the wrong riff".
- yeah, man
- an exclamation of assent.
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