8
votes
4answers
2k views

Did the slang term “The Bomb” meaning “Very Cool” come from the American Jazz scene?

Searching Google for the history of the slang term "the bomb" (as in "That song is the bomb") yields a number of results in 40s/50s jazz glossaries, but they tend to at best give an artificial example ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the origin of the slang 'kicks' meaning sneakers

Street culture uses the term 'kicks' to describe sneakers/athletic shoes. I've been using this term for as long as I can remember so I'm comfortable with it's meaning however, as I'm sure I could make ...
4
votes
5answers
480 views

Was there textspeak before texting?

2b |! 2b, < = ? With such a rich history of inventive writing and puns, it seemed bizarre to me that the idea of writing in txtspk would be a new one. I found a brief degree of truncation in ...
4
votes
2answers
469 views

Officer's shoulder bars - what are they?

I have read one historical joke, that during the Civil War Officer's shoulder bars were called "pumpkin rinds". Where are these mysterious shoulder bars from? I can find only shoulder boards or straps ...
8
votes
1answer
578 views

“Machine” as a 1920s American term for “car”

I've recently been reading some of the short stories of Dashiell Hammett featuring the Continental Op. These stories were written in the 1920s and are about a detective investigating crime in and ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Origin of “tootsie” or “tootsy” (foot)

I was just sitting thinking I had cold tootsies meaning my toes or feet! This got me wondering, where on earth does the word tootsie/tootsy come from? I did Google this and got definitions ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

Where did the slang usages of “cool” come from?

I see and hear two general slang usages of cool - one meaning great (illustrated by a and b below), and one meaning acceptable/okay (illustrated by c and d). The following are Dictionary.com's four ...
4
votes
1answer
451 views

Chicks - Girls, Cats - Boys?

The 1950's song Fever (covered, among others, by Elvis Presley) contains the following lines: Now you've listened to my story Here's the point that I have made Cats were born to give chicks ...
11
votes
5answers
47k views

What is the origin and history of the word “motherf---er”?

I'm not a native English speaker, but I would like to know how and why people started using mother fucker. Today it seems it has lost its meaning because people use it all the time, but was there a ...