What are some of the most common idioms and phrases of speech in the 20's? Specifically what are a couple different terms for bars (I already know speakeasies)? What were taxi's and cab drivers known as? How brutal were racial slurs at the time?

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I think this would be too long a question to answer. The 20s may well be the age that slang caught on, radio was becoming popular, new forms of music brought new terms and young people were more important as a group - although I suspect that people have said this about every decade since the neolithic.

See http://local.aaca.org/bntc/slang/slang.htm for a list. You have to take the dating with a pinch of salt, some much older terms may have been first recorded in print in the 20s because of wider newspaper circulation or some much later terms could have been back dated to the 20s because they seemed to have a link with Jazz or prohibition.

See the question on nitty-gritty for examples of words that were apparently common in the 20s but not recorded in print until the 60s, especially terms used by groups that didn't own newspaper chains.


From The Internet Guide to Jazz-Aged Slang come the following copacetic words and phrases:

Places to drink:

  • barrell house: illegal distillery
  • drum: speakeasy
  • gin mill: a seller of hard liquor; a cheap speakeasy
  • joint: establishment
  • juice joint: a speakeasy
  • shine box: a bar or club for black patrons
  • speakeasy: a bar selling illeagal liquor

Other drinking terms:

  • belt: a drink of liquor
  • bent: drunk
  • bootleg: illegal liquor
  • busthead: homemade liquor
  • coffin varnish: bootleg liquor, often poisonous
  • dead soldier: an empty beer bottle
  • horse linament: bootleg liquor
  • jorum of skee: a drink of hard liquor
  • on a toot: a drinking binge
  • rotgut: bootleg liquor
  • snort: a drink of liquor
  • strike-me-dead: bootleg liquor
  • white lightning: bootleg liquor

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