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A guide to 1920s terminology

12th December 2016 | JD Parties Staff

We love everything about the 1920s – the mystery, the gangsters, the flapper girls, the outfits! Not so much the ban on alcohol… but what about the way they spoke?  We love the quirky style and phrases, some of which are still used today and some which we wish still were! Here are our favourites to get you ready for the Roaring 20s party at ICC Birmingham.


Bee’s Knees: an extraordinary person, thing or idea

“Kenny, that’s the bee’s knees!”


Know your onions: to know what’s going on

“Know your onions, or you’re not coming along”


Rag-a-muffin: a dirty or dishevelled individual

“If only Don wasn’t such a rag-a-muffin”


Bank’s Closed: no kissing or making out

“Sorry Mac, the bank’s closed”


Heebie-Jeebies: the jitters

“I can’t go there, that place gives me the heebie-jeeblies”


Real McCoy: the genuine article

“This liquor, it’s the Real McCoy”


Big Cheese: the most important or influential person; boss.

“Don’t mess with Melvin, he’s the Big Cheese”


Cat’s Meow/Pyjamas: something splendid or stylish; similar to bee’s knees

“Have you seen Ethel? She looks like the cat’s pyjamas” 


Get a wiggle on: get a move on

“We’re late, get a wiggle on”


Handcuff: an engagement ring

“They’ve been together a while, she’s got a handcuff”


Butt me: give me a cigarette

“Hey Larry, butt me!”


Dolled up: dressed up

“We’re all dolled up, but we’ve got no place to go”


Clam: a dollar

“Will you give Chester a message? I’ll give you a clam if you do”


Putting on the Ritz: after the Ritz hotel in Paris; doing something in high style

“It’s going to be the best party, they’re putting on the Ritz”


We’ve still got our last few tickets available for New Year’s Eve – why not welcome 2017 in style and dress like the cat’s pyjamas! Find out about the party here.


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