Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

TypewriterA few years ago, I started a database of Jazz Age slang terms. The intention was to help our artists stay a little more true to the spirit of their favorite eras. I also made a note of recording when the terms were first reported, so you wouldn't mix your decades too much.

As I poured through old documents, I found an excellent distraction in Sarah Churchwell's "Careless People." Inside her overview of Jazz Age culture, I found a treasure trove of fun words I'd like to share.

If you don't feel comfortable expanding up your vocabulary with some less-than-savory language, you'd best run now.

"A list of the words first recorded in English between 1918 and 1923 reads like a Jazz Age divination of the century to come, a catalog of the origins of our life. The year 1922 alone added: 'brand-name,' 'Hollywood,' 'moviegoing,' 'rough cut,' 'performative,' 'robot,' 'sparkly,' 'schlep,' 'dimwit,' 'no-brow,' 'oops,' 'multilayered,' and 'rebrand...'"

Here are some of my favorites:

  • ad lib (circa 1919)
  • arbitrage (circa 1923)
  • atom bomb (circa 1921)
  • bagel (circa 1919)
  • biracial (circa 1921)
  • brand-name (circa 1922)
  • cartwheel (circa 1920)
  • check-up (circa 1921)
  • columnist (circa 1920)
  • comfort zone (circa 1923)
  • comparison-shopping (circa 1923)
  • cool (circa 1918)
  • cross-selling (circa 1919)
  • debunk (circa 1923)
  • deflationary (circa 1920)
  • devalue (circa 1918)
  • dimwit (circa 1922)
  • encode (circa 1919)
  • existentialism (circa 1919)
  • extrovert (circa 1918)
  • fantasist (circa 1923)
  • Fascist (circa 1921)
  • feedback (circa 1920)
  • French kiss (circa 1923)
  • food chain (circa 1920)
  • fucked-off (circa 1923)
  • fundamentalism (circa 1923)
  • hitch-hike (circa 1923)
  • Hollywood (circa 1922)
  • homosexually (circa 1921)
  • hypermodern (circa 1923)
  • inflationary (circa 1920)
  • junkie (circa 1923)
  • market research (circa 1920)
  • mass media (circa 1923)
  • merchant bank (circa 1921)
  • mock-up (circa 1920)
  • motherfucker (circa 1918)
  • moviegoing (circa 1922)
  • multi-purpose (circa 1920)
  • multilayered (circa 1922)
  • no-brow (circa 1922)
  • nouveau poor (circa 1921)
  • nutritionist (circa 1921)
  • off-the-rack (circa 1920)
  • oops (circa 1922)
  • performative (circa 1922)
  • posh (circa 1919)
  • post-feminist (circa 1919)
  • power play (circa 1921)
  • prefabricated (circa 1921)
  • psyching (circa 1920)
  • publicized (circa 1920)
  • race-baiter (circa 1921)
  • racialized (circa 1921)
  • rebrand (circa 1922)
  • ritzy (circa 1920)
  • robot (circa 1922)
  • rough cut (circa 1922)
  • sadomasochistic (circa 1921)
  • schlep (circa 1922)
  • slenderize (circa 1923)
  • slinky (circa 1921)
  • sophisticate (circa 1923)
  • sparkly (circa 1922)
  • subprime (circa 1920)
  • supersonic (circa 1919)
  • swankiness (circa 1920)
  • tear-jerker (circa 1921)
  • teenage (circa 1921)
  • to ace (circa 1923)
  • ultrasonic (circa 1923)
  • upgrade (circa 1920)
  • white-collar (circa 1919)
  • wimp (circa 1920)

Do you have favorites of your own?  Share them here!

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