Flappers 2 Rappers

Flappers 2 Rappers coverFlappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang

Submitter: I could see this book being a valuable addition to a library dedicated to linguistics or even American history. In a public library, though, this particular book looks odd next to the dictionaries and other language manuals. It’s dated, it’s damaged, and it needs to go.

Holly: I think it’s an ok choice for a public library, but it has definitely seen better days! Between condition and age, I’d try to update it. Funny, I’ve never heard STDs referred to as “burning” (see third picture, below). Then again, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a conversation about STDs outside of health class, and Mrs. Elliott was strict about terminology. I’d have died to hear her say “burning.”

Flappers 2 Rappers back cover



A pot potpourri

The Dude and His Speak


  1. This actually looks interesting. So much slang even from the 90’s that I’ve never heard of, I guess it depends on where you live. Might come in handy for a “retro” themed party, but I hope no one say’s they’re “burning”, the music sounds “crusty”, or ask who delivered the “circle of death”, ha ha.

  2. Re: “The Dude and His Speak”, I’m impressed that the phrase “…eloquently by Pauly Shore” has ever existed anywhere in the history of the universe.

  3. Seems interesting from a linguistic standpoint, although I agree that it could be updated. Also, there was a time when “bimbo” meant “a great person”? I’ve only ever heard it meaning an airhead, usually with the connotation that said airhead is also a conventionally attractive woman. I’ve also heard it stems from “bambino,” meaning child, but I’m not sure. Anybody?

    1. I remember it being used in a novel from the early 60s as a very underground gangland term ( the kind a polite lady wouldn’t understand) for a prostitute, which certainly sounds more closely related to a pretty ditz( who is usually also implied to be promiscuous) than to a “great person”. There was, however, a song from the mid ’50s wherein it was used as a man’s name and apparently seemed perfectly reasonable in that context at that time. No idea how it apparently shifted meaning so quickly!

    2. Bimbo is Italian for baby, babe, kid. Although the feminine is bimba, a Broadway summer musical revue “Silks And Satins”, which ran 60 performances between July and September of 1920, featured Aileen Stanley singing “My Little Bimbo Down On The Bamboo Isle” composed by Walter Donaldson with lyrics by Grant Clarke (whose knowledge of both Italian and geography gave way to poetic license). Recorded by Frank Crumit two days before the revue’s opening and by Stanley herself four weeks later, as well as other artists, it relates the tale of sailor Dan McCoy, shipwrecked on Feejeeeejee Isle: “I’ll tell you about it don’t tell my wife, I’ve got a bimbo down on the Bamboo Isle…For all she wore was great big Zulu smile”. It may be the first use of bimbo in reference to a woman, although at which point the woman became blonde and dumb (the song only mentions her lack of clothing and sexual inhibitions) I can’t tell, nor can I explain the book’s definition. As it is classified as 1940s slang, returning GIs may have effected a meaning shift which, unlike the craze for pizza, didn’t last.

  4. I thought the same thing, Jenny OH! I never expected to see “eloquent” and “Pauly Shore” in the same sentence!

  5. I so want this book, so I looked it up on Amazon. There is a 2010 edition with a jacket quote from Playboy and all 5 star reviews (from, admittedly a small number of reviews.) From the book synopsis: “This entertaining, highly readable book pulses with the vernacular of young Americans, tracing slang terms and expressions from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. In addition to alphabetical listings for each decade, it features fascinating word histories and sidebars about language and culture—jazz cat jive, the argot of Beat poets, gritty inner-city street talk, and other captivating colloquialisms.” But there is no “Look Inside,” so I can’t tell if the new edition still has the same awesome pictures.

  6. Any body recall when “bogart” meant to snitch some of someone else’s food or anything?

    1. No, I find this book’s definition to be accurate. I first heard it on Beavis and Butt Head, actually, where it wasn’t referring to a joint. I don’t think of bogart as stealing, exactly, just holding on to something for too long.

  7. I’d imagine some of these must be regional. I’ve heard people online use “gleek” to mean either fans of the show Glee or actual Glee Club members, but where and when I grew up, it meant to spit on someone as a form of a bullying.

  8. Even after getting a magnifying glass to read the pages pictured, I still don’t see “burning” — ? But, I don’t agree with the definition of “busted” — it doesn’t mean ugly, it means you’ve been caught, or, you are flat broke (perhaps even in Baton Rouge…). Busted up, to mean ugly, maybe. And, I don’t see how any page about Dudes can fail to mention The Dude, Jeff Bridges — surely “The Big Lebowski” was out by then? Also, I question whether the hookah can be traced solely to returning Viet Nam vets. Perhaps they spread its use around farther, but I would argue that there are likely other, earlier sources. I do agree with the previous commenters regarding “bimbo.”

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