The Language of Jive

Thanks to hepcats like Cab Calloway (Hepster’s Dictionary: Language of Jive), the Rat Pack, and icons like Lord Buckley, jazz speak came roaring out of Harlem and into the mouths of the mainstream. You don’t need a sax to be cool, man!

The Language of Jive

  • BAG: Your interest. Unless you’re in Aldi, in which case it’s what you take your shopping home in.
  • BEARD: A male friend who acts as your cover when you’re having an affair. Unless you’re Liberace. Or Rock Hudson.
  • BIG CASINO: Death. Not to be confused with dying (cf. below).
  • BOMB: A good thing. Makes it hard to know what everyone wants at a CND rally, to be frank. Or Sammy. Or Dean. Put Ville on the end of it and it becomes bad. cf. below.
  • CHARLEY: What you call one another. Especially when you’re blitzed on martinis and can’t remember anyone’s name. “The President? Never heard of him.”
  • CRUMB: Someone who deserves no respect. Unless he draws for underground comics.
  • DYING: To be really upset. A lifetime from now a Charley dressed as a Sam will use this (and gagging) to denote a good thing. Life is confusing. And don’t refer to your friend Charley as your beard either. Ask me later.
  • END: The very best. Unless you put Ville on the end of it. cf. below.
  • GAS: A great situation back then. Nowadays you can get pills for that kind of thing.
  • GROOVE: Admiration or approval. Madonna did not invent this word, kids.
  • HEPCAT: Someone in the know. Jolly good for them.
  • HOOCHIE COOCHIE: An erotic dance, practised by a HOOCHIE COOCHER (as in Minnie the Moocher). Hi de hi de hi de ho. (Not to be confused with Su Pollard.)
  • JEFF: Terminally unhip. Really? They’ve never seen The Fly? Or The Big Lebowski? Wow.
  • JIVE TALK: To speak the language of Harlem. (Later referred to the noise you make when you wear really tight disco pants and hail from Australia by way of Manchester.)
  • LID: A Prince Albert tobacco tin filled to the lid and thus equalling one ounce. This refers to drugs. Most of the terms in this glossary refer to drugs. Except the word Drugs which actually meant a car. (Only kidding.)
  • MAN: A universal word tacked onto the end of a sentence to mean “I am a jazz man/hepcat/rat pack member/beatnik/hippie/alternative type and thus cool, plus I totally used this word before any other sociologically defined youth group.”
  • MUGGLES: Marijuana. Harry Potter just got a hell of a lot more interesting, no?
  • THE NAZZ: Jesus. Put this book down immediately and go and listen to Lord Buckley. Immediately. Thank me later, man.
  • NOWHERE: Failure. Of interest, Nowheresville is still a failure. Those crazy kids!
  • PUNK: Undesirable. That’s a bit harsh. John Lydon was a cutie. Rude.
  • SAM: What you call a woman. cf. Charley above. Possibly confusing when you know a Charles, a Samuel, a Samantha, and a Charlotte.
  • T: Marijuana. Again with the drugs. Again – today’s drag queens and yesterday’s hep cats lead to a lot of confusion.
  • VILLE: A suffix which changes the prefix. Bomb is a good thing. Bombsville is bad. Nowheresville is still Nowhere, and Villesville is when there’s a tear in the time/space continuum.
  • VIPERS: Anyone partaking of the T. Refers to the hissing sound. Particularly when you do it behind a vindshield.

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