Miskatonic University Press

Twists, Slugs and Roscoes: A Glossary of Hardboiled Slang

Compiled by William Denton <wtd@pobox.com>. Copyright © 1993-2009. Please send me corrections, additions, suggestions and comments.

Edition 3.9.4. Version 4.0 is planned. Originally published as a pamphlet by Miskatonic University Press, 1993.

This glossary is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


If you’ve ever read a hardboiled detective story, you may have come across a sentence like,

“I jammed the roscoe in his button and said, ‘Close your yap, bo, or I squirt metal.’”

Something like this isn’t too hard to decipher. But what if you encounter,

“The flim-flammer jumped in the flivver and faded.”

“You dumb mug, get your mitts off the marbles before I stuff that mud-pipe down your mush—and tell your moll to hand over the mazuma.”

“The sucker with the schnozzle poured a slug but before he could scram out two shamuses showed him the shiv and said they could send him over.”

You may need to translate this into normal English just to be able to follow the plot.

Or maybe you want to seem tougher. Why get in a car when you can hop in a boiler? Why tell someone to shut up when you can tell them to close their head? Why threaten to discharge a firearm when you can say, “Dust, pal, or I pump lead!”

This is the language spoken by Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Mike Hammer and the Continental Op. When Cagney, Bogart, Robinson and Raft got in a turf war, this is how they talked.

Now, with the help of this glossary, you too can speak it like a native!


A

  • Alderman: A man’s pot belly
  • Ameche: Telephone
  • Ankle:
    • (n) Woman
    • (v) To walk

B

  • Babe: Woman
  • Baby: A person, can be said to either a man or a woman
  • Bangtails: Racehorses
  • Barber: Talk
  • Baumes rush: Senator Caleb H. Baumes sponsored a New York law (the Baumes Law) which called for automatic life imprisonment of any criminal convicted more than three times. Some criminals would move to a state that didn’t have this law in order to avoid its penalty should they be caught again, and this was known as a “Baumes rush,” because of the similarity to “bum’s rush.”
  • Be on the nut, To: To be broke
  • Bean-shooter: Gun
  • Beezer: Nose
  • Behind the eight-ball: In a difficult position, in a tight spot
  • Bent cars: Stolen cars
  • Berries: Dollars
  • Big house: Jail
  • Big one, The: Death
  • Big sleep, The: Death (coined by Chandler)
  • Bim: Woman
  • Bindle
    • of heroin: Little folded-up piece of paper (with heroin inside)
    • the bundle (or “brindle”) in which a hobo carries all his worldy possessions
  • Bindle punk, bindle stiff: Chronic wanderers; itinerant misfits, criminals, migratory harvest workers, and lumber jacks. Called so because they carried a “bindle.” George and Lenny in Of Mice and Men are bindle stiffs.
  • Bing: Jailhouse talk for solitary confinement, hence “crazy”
  • Bird: Man
  • Bit: Prison sentence
  • Blip off: To kill
  • Blow: Leave
  • Blow one down: Kill someone
  • Blower: Telephone
  • Bo: Pal, buster, fellow, as in “Hey, bo”
  • Boiler: Car
  • Boob: Dumb guy
  • Boozehound: Drunkard
  • Bop: To kill
  • Box:
    • A safe
    • A bar
  • Box job: A safecracking
  • Brace (somebody): Grab, shake up
  • Bracelets: Handcuffs
  • Break it up: Stop that, quit the nonsense
  • Breeze: To leave, go; also breeze off: get lost
  • Broad: Woman
  • Broderick, The: A thorough beating
  • Bruno: Tough guy, enforcer
  • Bucket: Car
  • Bulge, as in “The kid had the bulge there”: The advantage
  • Bulls: Plainclothes railroad cops; uniformed police; prison guards
  • Bum’s rush, To get the: To be kicked out
  • Bump: Kill
  • Bump gums: To talk about nothing worthwhile
  • Bump off: Kill; also, bump-off: a killing
  • Buncoing some (people): Defrauding people
  • Bunk:
    • “Take a bunk” - leave, disappear
    • “That’s the bunk” - that’s false, untrue
    • “to bunk” - to sleep
  • Bunny, as in “Don’t be a bunny”: Don’t be stupid
  • Burn powder: Fire a gun
  • Bus: Big car
  • Butter and egg man: The money man, the man with the bankroll, a yokel who comes to town to blow a big wad in nightclubs (see reference)
  • Button: Face, nose, end of jaw
  • Button man: Professional killer
  • Buttons: Police
  • Butts: Cigarettes
  • Buy a drink: To pour a drink
  • Buzz, as in “I’m in the dump an hour and the house copper gives me the buzz”: Looks me up, comes to my door
  • Buzzer: Policeman’s badge

C

  • C: $100, a pair of Cs = $200
  • Cabbage: Money
  • Caboose: Jail (from “calaboose,” which derives from calabozo, the Spanish word for “jail”)
  • Call copper: Inform the police
  • Can:
    • Jail
    • Car
  • Can house: Bordello
  • Can-opener: Safecracker who opens cheap safes
  • Canary: Woman singer
  • Case dough: “Nest egg … the theoretically untouchable reserve for emergencies” (Speaking)
  • Cat: Man
  • Century: $100
  • Cheaters: Sunglasses
  • Cheese it: Put things away, hide
  • Chew: Eat
  • Chicago lightning: gunfire
  • Chicago overcoat: Coffin
  • Chick: Woman
  • Chilled off: Killed
  • Chin: Conversation; chinning: talking
  • Chin music: Punch on the jaw
  • Chinese angle, as in “You’re not trying to find a Chinese angle on it, are you?”: A strange or unusual twist or aspect to something
  • Chinese squeeze: Grafting by skimming profits off the top
  • Chippy: Woman of easy virtue
  • Chisel: To swindle or cheat
  • Chiv, chive: Knife, “a stabbing or cutting weapon” (Speaking)
  • Chopper squad: Men with machine guns
  • Clammed: Close-mouthed (clammed up)
  • Clean sneak: An escape with no clues left behind
  • Clip joint: In some cases, a night-club where the prices are high and the patrons are fleeced (Partridge’s), but in Pick-Up a casino where the tables are fixed
  • Clipped: Shot
  • Close your head: Shut up
  • Clout: Shoplifter
  • Clubhouse: Police station
  • Coffee-and-doughnut, as in “These coffee-and-doughnut guns are …”: Could come from “coffee and cakes,” which refers to something cheap or of little value.
  • Con: Confidence game, swindle
  • Conk: Head
  • Cool: To knock out
  • Cooler: Jail
  • Cop
    • Detective, even a private one
    • To win, as in a bet
  • Copped, To be: Grabbed by the cops
  • Copper
    • Policeman
    • Time off for good behaviour
  • Corn: Bourbon (“corn liquor”)
  • Crab: Figure out
  • Crate: Car
  • Creep joint: ?? Can mean a whorehouse where the girls are pickpockets, but that doesn’t fit in Pick-Up
  • Croak: To kill
  • Croaker: Doctor
  • Crushed out: Escaped (from jail)
  • Cush: Money (a cushion, something to fall back on)
  • Cut down: Killed (esp. shot?)

D

  • Daisy: None too masculine
  • Dame: Woman
  • Dance: To be hanged
  • Dangle: Leave, get lost
  • Darb: Something remarkable or superior
  • Dark meat: Black person
  • Daylight, as in “let the daylight in” or “fill him with daylight”: Put a hole in, by shooting or stabbing
  • Deck, as in “deck of Luckies”: Pack of cigarettes
  • Derrick: Shoplifter
  • Diapers, as in “Pin your diapers on”: Clothes, get dressed
  • Dib: Share (of the proceeds)
  • Dick: Detective (usually qualified with “private” if not a policeman)
  • Dinge: Black person
  • Dingus: Thing
  • Dip: Pickpocket
  • Dip the bill: Have a drink
  • Dish: Pretty woman
  • Dive: A low-down, cheap sort of place
  • Dizzy with a dame, To be: To be deeply iin love with a woman
  • Do the dance: To be hanged
  • Dogs: Feet
  • Doll, dolly: Woman
  • Dope
    • Drugs, of any sort
    • Information
    • As a verb, as in “I had him doped as” - to have figured for
  • Dope fiend: Drug addict
  • Dope peddler: Drug dealer
  • Dormy: Dormant, quiet, as in “Why didn’t you lie dormy in the place you climbed to?”
  • Dough: Money
  • Drift: Go, leave
  • Drill: Shoot
  • Drink out of the same bottle, as in “We used to drink out of the same bottle”: We were close friends
  • Drop a dime: Make a phone call, sometimes meaning to the police to inform on someone
  • Droppers: Hired killers
  • Drum: Speakeasy
  • Dry-gulch: Knock out, hit on head after ambushing
  • Ducat
    • Ticket
    • For hobos, a union card or card asking for alms
  • Duck soup: Easy, a piece of cake
  • Dummerer: Somebody who pretends to be (deaf and?) dumb in order to appear a more deserving beggar
  • Dump: Roadhouse, club; or, more generally, any place
  • Dust
    • Nothing, as in “Tinhorns are dust to me”
    • Leave, depart, as in “Let’s dust”
    • A look, as in “Let’s give it the dust”
  • Dust out: Leave, depart
  • Dutch
    • As in “in dutch” - trouble
    • As in “A girl pulled the Dutch act” - committed suicide
    • As in “They don’t make me happy neither. I get a bump once'n a while. Mostly a Dutch.” - ?? relates to the police (Art)

E

  • Eel juice: liquor
  • Egg: Man
  • Eggs in the coffee: Easy, a piece of cake, okay, all right
  • Elbow:
    • Policeman
    • A collar or an arrest. Someone being arrested will “have their elbows checked.”
  • Electric cure: Electrocution
  • Elephant ears: Police

F

  • Fade: Go away, get lost
  • Fakeloo artist: Con man
  • Fin: $5 bill
  • Finder: Finger man
  • Finger, Put the finger on: Identify
  • Flat
    • Broke
    • As in “That’s flat” - that’s for sure, undoubtedly
  • Flattie: Flatfoot, cop
  • Flimflam(m): Swindle
  • Flippers: Hands
  • Flivver: A Ford automobile
  • Flogger: Overcoat
  • Flop:
    • Go to bed
    • As in “The racket’s flopped” - fallen through, not worked out
  • Flophouse: “A cheap transient hotel where a lot of men sleep in large rooms” (Speaking)
  • Fog: To shoot
  • Frail: Woman
  • Frau: Wife
  • Fry: To be electrocuted
  • From nothing, as in “I know from nothing”: I don’t know anything

G

  • Gams: Legs (especially a woman’s)
  • Gashouse, as in “getting gashouse”: Rough
  • Gasper: Cigarette
  • Gat: Gun
  • Gate, as in “Give her the gate”: The door, as in leave
  • Gaycat: “A young punk who runs with an older tramp and there is always a connotation of homosexuality” (Speaking)
  • Gee: Man
  • Geetus: Money
  • Getaway sticks: Legs (especially a woman’s)
  • Giggle juice: Liquor
  • Gin mill: Bar
  • Gink: Man
  • Girlie: Woman
  • Give a/the third: Interrogate (third degree)
  • Glad rags: Fancy clothes
  • Glom
    • To steal
    • To see, to take a look
  • Glaum: Steal
  • Go climb up your thumb: Go away, get lost
  • Go over the edge with the rams: To get far too drunk
  • Go to read and write: Rhyming slang for take flight
  • Gonif: Thief (Yiddish)
  • Goofy: Crazy
  • Goog: Black eye
  • Goon: Thug
  • Goose: Man
  • Gooseberry lay: Stealing clothes from a clothesline (see reference)
  • Gowed-up: On dope, high
  • Grab (a little) air: Put your hands up
  • Graft:
    • Con jobs
    • Cut of the take
  • Grand: $1000
  • Greasers:
    • Mexicans or Italians
    • A hoodlum, thief or punk
  • Grift:
    • As in “What’s the grift?”: What are you trying to pull?
    • Confidence game, swindle
  • Grifter: Con man
  • Grilled: Questioned
  • Gum:
    • As in “Don’t … gum every play I make”: Gum up, interfere with
    • Opium
  • Gum-shoe: Detective; also gumshoeing = detective work
  • Gun for: Look for, be after
  • Guns:
    • Pickpockets
    • Hoodlums
  • Gunsel:
    • Gunman (Hammett is responsible for this use; see note
    • Catamite
    • “1. (p) A male oral sodomist, or passive pederast. 2. A brat. 3. (By extension) An informer; a weasel; an unscrupulous person.” (Underworld)
    • Note Yiddish “ganzl” = gosling

H

  • Hack: Taxi
  • Half, A:50 cents
  • Hammer and saws: Police (rhyming slang for laws)
  • Hard: Tough
  • Harlem sunset: Some sort fatal injury caused by knife (Farewell, 14)
  • Hash house: A cheap restaurant
  • Hatchetmen: Killers, gunmen
  • Have the bees: To be rich
  • Have the curse on someone: Wanting to see someone killed
  • Head doctors: Psychiatrists
  • Heap: Car
  • Heat: A gun, also heater
  • Heeled: Carrying a gun
  • High pillow: Person at the top, in charge
  • Highbinders
    • Corrupt politician or functionary
    • Professional killer operating in the Chinese quarter of a city
  • Hinky: Suspicious
  • Hitting the pipe: Smoking opium
  • Hitting on all eight: In good shape, going well (refers to eight cylinders in an engine)
  • Hock shop: Pawnshop
  • Hogs: Engines
  • Hombre: Man, fellow
  • Hooch: Liquor
  • Hood: Criminal
  • Hooker, as in “a stiff hooker of whiskey”: A drink of strong liquor
  • Hoosegow: Jail
  • Hop:
    • Drugs, mostly morphine or derivatives like heroin
    • Bell-hop
  • Hop-head: Drug addict, esp. heroin
  • Horn: Telephone
  • Hot: Stolen
  • House dick: House/hotel detective
  • House peeper: House/hotel detective
  • Hype: Shortchange artist

I

  • Ice : Diamonds
  • In stir: In jail
  • Ing-bing, as in to throw an: A fit
  • Iron: A car

J

  • Jack: Money
  • Jake, Jakeloo: Okay
  • Jam: Trouble, as in “in a jam”
  • Jane: A woman
  • Jasper: A man (perhaps a hick)
  • Java: Coffee
  • Jaw: Talk
  • Jerking a nod: Nodding
  • Jingle-brained: Addled
  • Jobbie: Man
  • Joe: Coffee, as in “a cup of joe”
  • Johns: Police
  • Johnson brother: Criminal
  • Joint: Place, as in “my joint”
  • Jorum of skee: Shot of liquor
  • Joss house: Temple or house of worship for a Chinese religion
  • Juice: Interest on a loanshark’s loan
  • Jug: Jail
  • Jujus: Marijuana cigarettes
  • Jump, The: A hanging
  • Junkie: Drug addict

K

  • Kale: Money
  • Keister, keyster:
    • Suitcase
    • Safe, strongbox
    • Buttocks
  • Kick, as in “I got no kick”: I have nothing to complain about
  • Kick off: Die
  • Kicking the gong around: Taking opium
  • Kiss: To punch
  • Kisser: Mouth
  • Kitten: Woman
  • Knock off: Kill
  • Knockover: Heist, theft

L

  • Lammed off: Ran away, escaped
  • Large: $1,000; twenty large would be $20,000
  • Law, the: The police
  • Lay
    • Job, as in Marlowe saying he’s on “a confidential lay;” or more generally, what someone does, as in “The hotel-sneak used to be my lay”
    • As in “I gave him the lay” - I told him where things stood (as in lay of the of land)
  • Lead poisoning: To be shot
  • Lettuce: Folding money
  • Lid: Hat
  • Lip: (Criminal) lawyer
  • Lit, To be: To be drunk
  • Loogan: Marlowe defines this as “a guy with a gun”
  • Looker: Pretty woman
  • Look-out: Outside man
  • Lousy with: To have lots of
  • Lug
    • Bullet
    • Ear
    • Man (“You big lug!”)
  • Lunger: Someone with tuberculosis

M

  • Made: Recognized
  • Map: Face
  • Marbles: Pearls
  • Mark: Sucker, victim of swindle or fixed game
  • Mazuma: Money
  • Meat, as in “He’s your meat”: He’s the subject of interest, there’s your man
  • Meat wagon: Ambulance
  • Mesca: Marijuana
  • Mickey Finn
    • (n) A drink drugged with knock-out drops
    • (v) Take a Mickey Finn: Take off, leave
  • Mill: Typewriter
  • Mitt: Hand
  • Mob: Gang (not necessarily Mafia)
  • Moll: Girlfriend
  • Monicker: Name
  • Mouthpiece: Lawyer
  • Mud-pipe: Opium pipe
  • Mug: Face
  • Muggles: Marijuana
  • Mugs: Men (esp. dumb ones)
  • Mush: Face

N

  • Nailed: Caught by the police
  • Nance: An effeminate man
  • Nevada gas: Cyanide
  • Newshawk: Reporter
  • Newsie: Newspaper vendor
  • Nibble one: To have a drink
  • Nicked: Stole
  • Nippers: Handcuffs
  • Nix on (something): No to (something)
  • Noodle: Head
  • Nose-candy: Heroin, in some cases
  • Number: A person, can be either a man or a woman

O

  • Off the track, as in “He was too far off the track. Strictly section eight”: Said about a man who becomes insanely violent
  • Op: Detective (esp. private), from “operative”
  • Orphan paper: Bad cheques
  • Out on the roof, To be: To drink a lot, to be drunk
  • Oyster fruit: Pearls

P

  • Pack: To carry, esp. a gun
  • Palooka: Man, probably a little stupid
  • Pan: Face
  • Paste: Punch
  • Patsy: Person who is set up; fool, chump
  • Paw: Hand
  • Peaching: Informing
  • Pearl diver: dish-washer
  • Peeper: Detective
  • Pen: Penitentiary, jail
  • Peterman: Safecracker who uses nitroglycerin
  • Pigeon: Stool-pigeon
  • Pill
    • Bullet
    • Cigarette
  • Pinch: An arrest, capture
  • Pins: Legs (especially a woman’s)
  • Pipe: See or notice
  • Pipe that: Get that, listen to that
  • Pipes: Throat
  • Pistol pockets: ?? heels?
  • Pitching woo: Making love (Turner)
  • Plant
    • (n) Someone on the scene but in hiding
    • (v) Bury
  • Plug: Shoot
  • Plugs: People
  • Poke
    • Bankroll, stake
    • Punch (as in “take a poke at”)
  • Pooped: Killed
  • Pop: Kill
  • Pro skirt: Prostitute
  • Puffing: Mugging
  • Pug: Pugilist, boxer
  • Pump: Heart
  • Pump metal: Shoot bullets
  • Punk
    • Hood, thug
    • “A jailhouse sissy who is on the receiving end.” (Also as a verb, as in “to get punked.”)
  • Puss: Face
  • Put down: Drink
  • Put the screws on: Question, get tough with

Q

  • Queer
    • (n) Counterfeit
    • (n) Sexually abnormal
    • (v) To ruin something or put it wrong (“queer this racket”)

R

  • Rags: Clothes
  • Ranked: Observed, watched, given the once-over
  • Rap
    • Criminal charge
    • Information, as in “He gave us the rap”
    • Hit
  • Rappers: Fakes, set-ups
  • Rat: Inform
  • Rate: To be good, to count for something
  • Rats and mice: Dice, i.e. craps
  • Rattler: Train
  • Red-light: To eject from a car or train
  • Redhot: Some sort of criminal
  • Reefers: Marijuana cigarettes
  • Rhino: Money
  • Ribbed up, as in “I got a Chink ribbed up to get the dope”: Set up, arranged for? “I have arranged for a Chinese person to get the information”? (Knockover, 203)
  • Right: Adjective indicating quality
  • Right gee, Right guy: A good fellow
  • Ringers: Fakes
  • Rod: Gun
  • Roscoe: Gun
  • Roundheels
    • A fighter with a glass jaw
    • A woman of easy virtue
  • Rub-out: A killing
  • Rube: Bumpkin, easy mark
  • Rumble, the: The news
  • Run-out, To take the: Leave, escape

S

  • Sap
    • A dumb guy
    • A blackjack
  • Sap poison: Getting hit with a sap
  • Savvy?: Get me? Understand?
  • Sawbuck: $10 bill (a double sawbuck is a $20 bill)
  • Scatter, as in “And don’t bother to call your house peeper and send him up to the scatter”
    • Saloon or speakeasy.
    • A hideout, a room or lodging
  • Schnozzle: Nose
  • Scram out: Leave
  • Scratch: Money
  • Scratcher: Forger
  • Screw
    • Leave, as in “Let’s screw before anybody pops in”
    • Prison guard
  • Send over: Send to jail
  • Shamus: (Private) detective
  • Sharper: A swindler or sneaky person
  • Shells: Bullets
  • Shine
    • Black person
    • Moonshine, bootleg liquor
  • Shine Indian: ?? (Knockover, 89)
  • Shiv: Knife
  • Shylock: Loanshark
  • Shyster: Lawyer
  • Silk, as in “all silk so far”: All okay so far
  • Sing: Confess, admit secrets
  • Sister: Woman
  • Skate around, as in “She skates around plenty”: To be of easy virtue
  • Skid rogue: A bum who can’t be trusted
  • Skipout: Leave a hotel without paying, or a person who does so
  • Skirt: Woman
  • Slant, Get a: Take a look
  • Sleuth: Detective
  • Slug
    • As a noun, bullet
    • As a verb, to knock unconscious
  • Smell from the barrel, Have a: Have a drink
  • Smoke: A black person
  • Smoked: Drunk
  • Snap a cap: Shout
  • Snatch: Kidnap
  • Sneak
    • Leave, get lost, as in “If you’re not a waiter, sneak”
    • Type of burglary, as in as in “The hotel-sneak used to be my lay”
  • Sneeze: Take
  • Snitch: An informer, or, as a verb, to inform
  • Snooper: Detective
  • Snort (as in of gin): A drink
  • Snow-bird: (Cocaine) addict
  • Snowed: To be on drugs (heroin? cocaine?); also “snowed up”
  • Soak: To pawn
  • Sock: Punch
  • Soup: Nitroglycerine
  • Soup job: To crack a safe using nitroglycerine
  • Spill: Talk, inform; spill it = tell me
  • Spinach: Money
  • Spitting: Talking
  • Spondulix: Money
  • Square: Honest; on the square: telling the truth
  • Squirt metal: Shoot bullets
  • Step off: To be hanged
  • Sticks of tea: Marijuana cigarettes
  • Stiff: A corpse
  • Sting: Culmination of a con game
  • Stool-pigeon: Informer
  • Stoolie: Stool-pigeon
  • Stringin': As in along, feeding someone a story
  • Sucker: Someone ripe for a grifter’s scam
  • Sugar: Money
  • Swift, To have plenty of: To be fast (on the draw)
  • Swing: Hang

T

  • Tail: Shadow, follow
  • Take a powder: Leave
  • Take it on the heel and toe: Leave
  • Take on: Eat
  • Take the air: Leave
  • Take the bounce: To get kicked out (here, of a hotel)
  • Take the fall for: Accept punishment for
  • Tea: Marijuana
  • That’s the crop: That’s all of it
  • Three-spot: Three-year term in jail
  • Throw a joe: Pass out ?? (Key, 86)
  • Throw lead: Shoot bullets
  • Ticket: P.I. license
  • Tiger milk: Some sort of liquor
  • Tighten the screws: Put pressure on somebody
  • Tin: Badge
  • Tip a few: To have a few drinks
  • Tip your mitt: Show your hand, reveal something
  • Tomato: Pretty woman
  • Tooting the wrong ringer: Asking the wrong person
  • Torcher: Torch singer
  • Torpedoes: Gunmen
  • Trap: Mouth
  • Trigger man: Man whose job is to use a gun
  • Trip for biscuits, as in “You get there fast and you get there alone - or you got a trip for biscuits”: Make the trip for no purpose, achieve no results
  • Trouble boys: Gangsters
  • Turn up: To turn in (to the police)
  • Twist: Woman
  • Two bits: $25, or 25 cents.

U

  • Under glass: In jail
  • Up-and-down, as in “to give something the up-and-down”: A look
  • Uppers, as in “I’ve been shatting on my uppers for a couple of months now” or “I’m down on my uppers”: To be broke

V

  • Vag, as in vag charge, vag law: Vagrancy
  • Vig, Vigorish
    • Excessive interest on a loanshark’s loan
    • Advantage in odds created by a bookie or gambler to increase profit

W

  • Weak sister: A push-over
  • Wear iron: Carry a gun
  • Wheats, as in “a stack of wheats”: Pancakes
  • White
    • Good, okay, as in “white dick”
    • Gin (“a gallon of white”)
  • Wikiup: Home
  • Wire, as in “What’s the wire on them?”: News, “What information do you have about them?”
  • Wise, To be To be knowledgeable of; put us wise: tell us
  • Wise head: A smart person
  • Wooden kimono: A coffin
  • Worker, as in “She sizes up as a worker”: A woman who takes a guy for his money
  • Wrong gee: Not a good fellow
  • Wrong number: Not a good fellow

Y

  • Yap: Mouth
  • Yard: $100
  • Yegg: Safecracker who can only open cheap and easy safes

Z

  • Zotzed: Killed

Bibliography

Key: Full Title (year of first publication) by Author (Publisher and year of publication for the copy I used)

(ss = short stories collected years after first publication)

  • The Big Knockover (ss) by Dashiell Hammett (Vintage, 1972)
  • The Big Sleep (1939) by Raymond Chandler (Ballantine, 1971)
  • The Continental Op (ss) by Dashiell Hammett (Vintage, 1975)
  • The Dain Curse (1929) by Dashiell Hammett (Vintage, 1972)
  • “Death’s Passport,” a Dan Turner story by Robert Leslie Bellem. Published in Spicy Detective in 1940.
  • The Dictionary of American Underworld Slang, by ?.
  • Dougle in Trouble by Richard Prather and Stephen Marlowe (Gold Medal, 1959)
  • Farewell, My Lovely (1940) by Raymond Chandler (Vintage, 1976)
  • The Glass Key (1931) by Dashiell Hammett (Vintage, 1972)
  • The Lady in the Lake (1943) by Raymond Chandler (Vintage, 1976)
  • The Maltese Falcon (1930) by Dashiell Hammet (Vintage, 1984)
  • Night Squad (1961) by David Goodis (Vintage, 1992)
  • Partridge’s Concise Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English edited by Partridge and Beal (Collier Macmillan, 1989?)
  • Pick-Up on Noon Street (ss) by Raymond Chandler (Pocket Books, 1952)
  • Playback (1958) by Raymond Chandler (Ballantine, 1977)
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) by James M. Cain (Vintage, 1978)
  • Raymond Chandler Speaking edited by Gardiner and Walker (Allison & Busby, 1984)
  • Shoot the Piano Player (1956) by David Goodis (Vintage, 1990)
  • The Simple Art of Murder (ss) by Raymond Chandler (Ballantine, 1972)
  • The Thin Man (1934) by Dashiell Hammett (Vintage, 1972)
  • Vengeance is Mine (1950) by Mickey Spillane (Signet, 1951)

Acknowledgements

Thanks to adria@u.washington.edu, anbaumes@aol.com, eluki@aol.com, johnsf@info-wave.com, jtr@gis.net, kijee@aol.com, LoisAna@aol.com, zeromostel@aol.com, Alan Andersen, Bill Balint, Oskar Back, Dan Beekman, Fabio Blanco, Eddie Bradford, J.W. Carter, Clayton Clark, Ed Cobb, Jim Cort, Dantalion, Jerome Dehnert, Bob Di Sebastian, Joseph M. Erhardt, Michael Ericksen, Paris Flammonde, Linda Franic, Bob Fritsch, Luke Garvey, Jan Haluska, Katherine Harper, Sandra Hess, Chris Hobbs, N.S. Hurt, Jennifer, Jevex, Kristopher John, J. Russell Jones, Kevin, Andrew G. Lehr, Erick Lundin, Lucas McCarthy, Douglas McCarty, Dan McClure, Mark D. McHugh, Lise McClendon, Henry Mazel, Margaret P. Mickelson, Kelly Moffatt, Alberto Abete Montoya, Nadine, Max Nordstrom, Gonzalo Quesada, Scott Radtke, William Ritter, Steven Rubio, William J. Rusen, Michele Salles, Paul Sarkis, Matt Stevens, Darren T, Mark Taylor, Chris Todd, Laura Toops, Eric Tublin, Marc Visconte and Sam Waas for their additions and suggestions.

Updated: 13 January 2014