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