Crackin Wise: A Slang Dictionary

Compiled by Matt Lerner

To crack wise: the use of a profusion of hip terms by an obvious square in an effort to be accepted on the scene.

I made this dictionary for a project I did in my potential literature class. Use it to spice up any conversation, paper, lab report, recipe, mental evaluation, etc. Be sure to check out the historically inaccurate example of the slang in this dictionary.


  1. Selections from The dictionary of African-American Slang by Clarence Major
  2. Selections from American Tramp & Underworld Slang by Godfrey Irwin
  3. Australian Slang
  4. Slang from the 1880's
  5. Logger Talk of the Pacific Northwest

I. Selections From the Dictionary of Afro-American Slang by Clarence Major

Absofuckinglutely: without doubt
Ace-deuce: three
A-head: a heavy user of amphetamines
Alligator: a term used to refer to white jazz musicians, jive people, or jitterbugs
Ankle: to walk
Anywhere: to possess drugs, example, "Are you anywhere?"
Apollo Play: the planet earth
Are your boots laced?: inquiry as to whether or not one understands the matter in question
Armstrong: a very high note
Ass peddler: one who sells him or herself sexually
Attic: the human head
Avenue-tank: a bus
Axle grease: stiff pomade for the hair

Back-door man: a married woman's lover
Bagpipe: vacuum cleaner
Balling the Jack: a dance accompanied by lusty handclapping; to work swiftly
Balloon room: the place where marijuana is smoked
Ballroom without a parachute: marijuana den where no marijuana is available
Banana: an attractive light skinned Afro-American female
Bank: toilet
Banter play built on a coke frame: an attractive young woman
Barbecue, Bar-B-Q: an attractive female as an object for oral sex
Barge: to jump
Bark: human skin
Barkers: shoes
Basket: the penis and groin
Beam: to look
Bean: the sun
Beard: intellectual or far-out person
Beast: the white people
Beat (one's) chops: to talk
Beater: money
Beat for the yolk: short of cash
Beat (one's) skin: to clap
Beat the rocks: walk on the sidewalk
Beat to the socks: weariness
Bebop glasses: fashionable sunglasses
Bee: an idea
Belly fiddler: guitar
Bend one's ear: to tell someone something
Bender: human arm
Benny: an overcoat
Biddie: an attractive little girl or small old woman
Bigger Thomas: character in Native Son, a bad nigger
Birdwood: marijuana
Biscuit: human skull or bed pillow
Black gunion: a strong, gummy grade of marijuana
Blast: to smoke marijuana
Blind: to be uncircumcised
Blip: anything strange
Blow a gut: explode with laughter
Blow change: to think, talk, write, or play music along the lines of revolutionary principles.
Blow gage: smoke pot
Blow out the afterglow: to turn off the lights
Blow (one's) soul: to do creative work with passion and honesty
Blue broadway: heaven
Bogus beef: groundless complaint or chatter
Bomber: thick reefer
Boo: a derivitive of "jabooby," marijuana, so called because it sometimes induces anxiety or fear
Boo koos: a large quantity of anything
Boolhipper: black leather coat
Boot: to explain
Booted on: to be hip
Boot-snitch: information
Bottle up and go: to leave
Boxed: overcome by narcotics or liquor
Brace of horned corns: aching feet
Breaking luck: the first trick of the evening for a prostitute
Breeze up: the utmost
Broom: to walk or run
Broom to the slammer that fronts the drape crib: to go to the clothes closet
Bubble dancing: washing dishes
Bucket: a car
Bull's wool: stolen clothes
Bunch of fives: the fists
Bust (one's) conk: to work hard

Cack: to go to sleep
Call off all bets: to die
Catting: to search for available women
Cattle train: a Cadillac
Chamber of commerce: toilet
Charlie Nebs: policeman
Cheaters: dark sunglasses
Check the war: command to stop arguing
Check your nerves: command to keep cool
Chewers: teeth
Chimer: timepiece; the human heart
Chimney: the human head
Choker: a neck tie
Circus Love: an orgy
Citizen: a square or white person
Classy Chassis: an attractive woman's body
Clip side of big moist: on the other side of the ocean
Clyde: a square
Cold meat party: a funeral
Collar a broom: to leave
Collar a duster up the ladder: to climb stairs
Collar a hot: to eat lunch or summer
Collar the jive: to grasp what is happening
Come on like gang busters: to do something very fast
Conk: pomade for the hair; the human head
Conk-buster: anything mentally difficult
Cookie: the female genitalia
Cook with gas: to be informed about the popular fad
Cool papa: a nonchalant male
Coo-yon: anyone who is crazy
Cop a broom: to leave hurridly
Cop a drill: to leave walking
Cop a squat: to sit down
Corn: money
Cotton: the hair of a woman's pudendum
Crack wise: an obvous square who uses a profusion of hip terms in an effort to be accepted on the scene
Crazy rim: a handsome hat
Creaker: an old person
Cut a rug: to dance

Damper: a savings bank
Dap: dapper
Dead president: paper money
Deb: a girl member of a gang
Deece: a dime
Demon: a dime
Derby: the reference is to the human head as it relates to oral copulation
Desk piano: typewriter
Deuce o'dims and darks on the cutback: forty-eight hours ago
Deuce of benders: knees
Deuce of haircuts: two weeks
Deuce of nods on the backbeat: two nights ago
Deuce of peekers: two eyes
Deuce of ticks: two minutes
Dig the dip: take a bath
Dims and brights: days and nights
Dip: a hat
Dipping: picking pockets
Dirty bird: nickname for Old Crow Whisky
Dirty Dozens: a game played by insulting the relatives of the other players
Doing a hundred: very fine shape
Dream box: human head
Dribble: to stutter
Dried barkers: furs
Drilling: walking
Drink: a large body of water
Drumsticks: human legs
Dry long so: dullness or fate
Ducks: tickets to a social event
Dust-bin: grave
Dusty butt: short person who's rear end almost touches the ground

Early beam: in the morning
Early black: in the evening
Early bright: dawn
Ears: to listen, example, "I got ears for what you're saying"
Earth pads: shoes
Eight ball: a square
Eighty-eight: a piano
Enamel: human skin
Every tub on its own black bottom: to improvise
Expense: a new born baby

Face: a stranger
Faded: a black that fades into a white way of life
Fat city: a fine state of affairs
Fat lip: obnoxious talk
Feel a draft: to sense racism
Feelers: fingers
Fews and twos: a small sum of money
Few tickers: a few minutes
Fiddle-cases: shoes
Fifty-'leven: an uncountable quantity
Fish: a woman
Flaps: ears
Flippers: ears
Floating: intoxicated
Flyer with the roof slightly higher: a modified version of a ten gallon Stetson hat
Fold (one's) ears: to advise
Forks: fingers
Frail eel: a good looking woman
Frame: the body; suit of clothes
Frantic: anything exciting
Fresh water trout: good-looking women
Frolic Pad: a nightclub or dance hall
From out front: from the beginning
Fruiting: being promiscuous
Fry: to straighten nappy hair

Gage: marijuana
Gam: to brag or show off
Gang-shags: lively parties
Gang: a large amount of anything
Gasper: a cigarette
Gate: a jazz musician or other hip person
Gatemouth: gossiper
Gazer: a window
Geets: power or money or both
Get go: the beginning
Get previous: to act in a very forward manner
Get (one's) rug beat: to get a haircut
Get some kick: to obtain money
Gims: the eyes
Gin: a street fight
Goat hair: bootleg liquor
Gobble: to talk
Golden leaf: good marijuana
Gold fish: sliced peaches
Gonest: the best
Gorilla pimp: a stupid, crude, tactless hustler
Got (one's) boots on: to be wise, hip
Grabbers: the hands
Grape-cat: one who drinks a great deal of wine
Grapes of wrath: wine
Gravy: money or the power it generates
Grease: to eat
Grease (one's) chops: to eat
Greyhound: to run fast
Ground apple: a brick or rock or stone
Ground rations: sexual intercourse
Gum-beating: talking
Gun: to look
Gungeon: poetent marijuana
Gunpowder: gin

Hack: anger or annoyance; a white person;
Hacked: irritated
Haircut: to be robbed or cheated; to be abused in some way by a woman
Ham fat: a mediocre person or thing
Ham kick: a social game designed to give men a peek at the underpants and thighs of girls; the girl who could kick a ham that was hung high up won the meat.
Hammer: beautiful woman
Hams: human legs
Handcuffs: an engagement ring or wedding ring
Handsome ransom: a large quantity of money
Hang: a job, especially one taken or held grudgingly
Haps: happenings, refers to any significant incident
Hardleg: any man or an ugly woman
Hard skull-fry: a heavily greased and shiny conked hair-do
Hard spiel: jive talk
Hat: any female
Hay-eater: any white person
Headcheese: various cheap grades of pork meat
Heavy wet: rain storm
Hinges: one's elbow
Hobo cocktail: a glass of water
Hocks: the feet
Holding: possession of illegal drugs
Hooch: liquor
Hummer: a small error; also getting something free
Hustle: to survive by any means possible
Hype: a deception

Iced: imprisoned
Idea-pot: the mind
Igg: ignore
Index: the human face
In front of: to have control of a situation
Ink: cheap wine

Jasper: lesbian
Jelly: without charge
Jelly-roll: one's lover; a term for the vagina
Jersey side of snatch play: to be over forty
Jessie: a red-head "vixen"
Jib: bouth
Jick head: a drunk
Juice back: to drink liquor
Jump salty: to suddenly become angry

Kack: used like "fellow" or "dude"
Keep on keeping on: pereverance
Keister: buttocks
Kemels: shoes
Keyholding a round tripper: to be witness to an extraordinary event
Kicks: shoes
Knobs: knees
Knock a nod: to go to sleep
Knocking her dead one on the nose each and every double trey: to get a paycheck every sixth day
Knowlege box: the head
Kopasetic: excellent

Lamps: one's eyes
Last debt: death
Last out: death
Lay across the drink: the continent of Europe
Let (one) down for (one's) chimer: steal someone's watch
Lid: the sky; one's mind; a hat
Lightly and politely: to effect smoothly, as though without effort
Like cheese: any strong odor
Like Jack the Bear just ain't nowhere: an expression of disappointment, worthlessness
Little Eva: a loud-mouth white girl
Lobo: an ugly girl
Lobstertails: usually refers to a case of crabs

Make the scene: to go to where one's friends gather
Man who rides the screaming gasser: policeman in a patrol car
Man with headache stick: policeman
Man with the book of many years: judge in a courtroom
Marble town: a cemetary
Melted out: to be without money
Moldy: out of style
Moldy fig: one who refects the new jazz
Moo: money
Moss: one's hair
Mouse: one's pocket
Mow the lawn: to comb the hair
Mugged behind five: speaking with the hand shielding the lips
Muscle: bluff; false

Nab: policeman
Nasties: sexual desire
Natch: variant of "naturally"
Nickel note: five dollar bill
Nix out: to throw away
Noodle: the human head
Nookie: vagina
Noose is hanging: state of readiness
Nose wide open: to be in love
Nowhere: applied to a dull person
Nut roll: one who plays stupid

Off the cob: out of style or backwards
Off-time jive: a weak excuse
Oil: pay-off to authorities
Onion act: anything or situation conidered extremely wrong
Orchestration: an overcoat
Other man: the white man

Paddles: the hands
Pad of galloping snap-shots: amotion picture theater
Pad of stiffs: a funeral parlor
Pad of stitches: a hospital
Pail: the stomach
Panatella: the finest grade of marijuana
Pants: any male person
Peeling a fine green banana: making love to a very pretty light-skinned girl
Pez: hair on the head or face
Phiz: the face
Pies: the eyes
Pig meat: an older woman
Pile of bricks: any building in a city
Pillars: human legs
Pimp steak: a hot dog
Pistols: zoot trousers
Pitch a bitch: to complin
Platters: the feet
Playing the dozens with one's uncle's cousin: having the wrong approach to everything
Plenty: good
Pluck: cheap wine
Plug the mug: to stop talking
Prayer bones: the knees
Press the flesh: shake hands
Props: legs
Puffed air: having no food
Pulleys: suspenders
Pumpkin: the moon, or the sun
Pump the stump: to shake hands
Put (one) on a crosstown bus: to deliberately conuse someone
Put the issue on someone: to train them military

Racket-jacket: a zoot suit
Rag out: to put on one's finest clothes
Raise sand: to fight
Reckless eyeballing: looking with desire at "forbidden" persons
Red gravy: blood
Rent party: a party given in one's home to make money to pay the rent
Rind: one's skin
Rock candy: diamonds
Roll: a wad of paper money; to have sex
Rubies: one's lips
Ruff: a quarter
Rugcutter: one who dances a lot
Rusty dusty: the buttocks

Safety: one's bed
Sails: the ears
Scoffing fishheads and scrambling for the gills: having a very difficult time
Scratch: money
Scribe: a letter
Semolia: a fool
Send: to arouse emotionally
Sender: one who arouses emotionally
Sew: to perform autoerotism
Shafts: one's legs
Shooting gravy: when an addict reinjects his own cooked blood
Six: grave
Sizzle: to be dangerously subject to arrest, usually for the possession of illegal drugs
Skull-drag: any performance or task that taxes the mind heavily
Sky: refers to the blue uniform of a law-enforcement agent
Slab: bread
Slay (one): a request to be told stunning news
Sliceing (one's) chops: talking
Slide (one's) jib: to talk
Slides: shoes

Sniff a powder: to run away and leave
Some pig: talk
Sounding: flirting
Spasm band: musicians who get together with homemade instruments and form a marching band
Spilling: talking
Spinning at the track on fool's dim: to go dancing with a girl
Spotters: one's eyes
Squatter: a chair
Stagger Lee: a character in African-American folklore. He accuses someone called Billy of cheating at dice, goes home and returns with his gun. At gun-point, Billy begs for his life to no avail; not only is Billy shot but the bullet passes through his bo dy and breaks the bartenders glass. In other words, Stagger Lee is an angry nigger
Stealers: the fingers
Stems: the legs
Step-off: a street curb
Stewie: a drunk
Stiffing the stroll: act of standing on the corner
Stilts: the legs
Stompers: one's shoes or feet
Stooling: informing on someone
Streevus mone on the reevus cone: a jitterbug expression that has no specific meaning
Striders: trousers
Struggle buggy: an old rundown car
Sugar: a kiss
Swoop: to leave quickly

Tab action: to borrow
Tabs: one's ears
Tagged the play with the slammer issue: the act of putting a troublesome person in jail
Tattler: an alarm clock
Tears: pearls
Tick: a minute
Tip out: to have sex with soeone other than one's spouse
Tog: to dress fashionably
Togged to the bricks: dressed extrememly well
Togs: clothing
Tooth booth: a dentist's office
Tooting stomps: low-quarter shoes
Tower of Pisa: leaning
Tree-suit: coffin
Trig (one's) wig: to think fast
Trey of sous and a double ruff: forty cents
Trickeration: to show off
Trump the hump: climb the hill
Turn out: to initiate a beginner to the scene
Tushroon: money
Two camels: ten minutes

Vacuum cleaner: one's lungs
V-8: an unfriendly female
Vic: a victim
Ville: popular suffix often attached to any word as an intensifier
Vine: a suit of clothing
Viper: drug dealer

Waders: boots
Waterworks: tears
Wear a smile: to be naked
What's your song King Kong: How do you feel?
White lilies: bed sheets
Wiggy: pleasing
Worm: to study

X'd out: something formerly important that is no longer significant
Yam: to eat
Yeasting: to exaggerate
Yellow eye: an egg

Zanzy: excellent
Zap: to move quickle
Zazzle: sexual desire
Ziggerboo: a crazy person
Zoom: to obtain something without paying for it; to sneak in
Zoot: a fashionable and flashy style in clothing

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II. Selections from American Tramp and Underworld Slang by Godfrey Irwin

Bale of Straw: a blonde woman
Balloon Juice: idle talk
Barber: to talk
Biddies: eggs
Blinky: one with poor eyesight
Bone orchard: graveyard
Cover with the moon: to sleep in the open
Cupid's itch: any venereal disease
Gams: a girl's legs
Glass Jaw: a coward
Gonger: an opium pipe
Googs: spectacles
Grease the track: to jump in font of a train
Hooch: liquor
Hot squat: the electric chair
Jazz: sexual intercourse
Kick it apart: to lay out the details
Making the riffle: succeeding
Oscar: to walk away
Picture frame: the gallows
Pie in the sky: One's reward in the hereafter
Pimp stick: a cigarette
Possum belly: to ride on top of a passenger train
Pound the ear: to sleep
Punk and gut: bread and cheese
Put the boots to: to have sexual intercourse
Red cross: morphine
Red Lead: Ketchup
Scrape the mug: to shave
Shackles: soup
Submarines: doughnuts
Tamp up: to assault or beat
Tape: the tongue
Toadskins: paper money
Tomato can stiff: one of the lowest bum
V: five dollars
Vic: convict
White cross: cocaine
Zook: a worn-out prostitute

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III. Australian Slang

Bonzer: good
Buckshee: free
Cobber: buddy
de fud: to put of until later
Fair dinkum: genuine
Gammon: gossip
Grog: liqour; to be intoxicated
Hit your kick: dig into one's wallet
Lashings: large quanity of something
Nipper: a boy
On the nose: stinks
Throw a willie: to throw a fit
Widgie: a young female hoodlum type
Yacker: physical work, example, "hard yacker"

IV. Slang from the 1800's

Burster: bread
Can't see a hole through a ladder: being drunk
Collywobles: stomach
Chinkers: money
Gadding the hoof: to go barefoot
Give an oak towel rubdown: to beat
I suppose: nose, example, "I gave him a blow with this neddy on the I-suppose"
Mump: to talk seriously
Mushroom: umbrella
Obfuscated: drunk
Oliver: moon
Pilch: to steal
Re-raw: out getting drunk, example, "On the re-raw"
Slag: a chain
Stow your mag: hold your tongue
Swag: plunder
The cove has got lots of feathers in his crib: the man has plenty of money in his house
To go on the shallows: to be half naked
To lap the gutter: to get drun
To speel the drum: to run away with the stolen property
To strike the jigger: to pick the lock
White satin: gin

V. Logger Talk of the Pacific Northwest

Bellies rise and fall with the tide: a statement expressive of hard times
Cackleberry: an egg
Don't know whether to eat or rub on: descriptive of delicate comestibles
Fake: used for anything or as a verb, example, "Fake up a batch of biscuits"
Fake-a-loo: same word embellished
Frog: a French person
Juniper juice: gin
Now you're loggin': statement of high praise
Scandihoovian: a Scandinavian

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Here's a completely inaccurate example of how this slang can be put to work:

Stagger Lee Slices the Chops Lightly and Politely

"Charlie Nebs thought I was playing the dozens with one's uncle's cousins," Stagger Lee chuckles as he opens the jigger and ankles into his crib. "Let me fix you a hobo cocktail."

"I'd like that, Stagger Lee, but first I have to make a visit to the chamber of commerce. I'll be back in a few tickers."

Stagger Lee goes into the kitchen and pours a hobo cocktail for Simone. He zaps back to the living room and sits down at the 88 to blow his soul. Simone peeps out the gazer in the bathroom and sees the rain fall on the conk of a back-door man walking in the alley. She ankles back into the living room and blows out the afterglow. Stagger Lee lights a pimp stick and a candle. Simone looks into his orbits with zazzle, and asks if he wants to blast before bed.

"Sure as there's sand in spinach," he answers. Stagger Lee loosens his choker and pulls the mez from his pocket. He puts the birdwood in his gonger and fires up the panatella.

"Damn, that's like cheese," moans Simone. Natch, they both start getting the nasties. Stagger Lee, always the elegant hustler, pours two glasses of ink and turns on the juke. They begin spinning at the track on fool's dim.

"Stagger Lee, Deuce o'dims and darks on the cutback my dream box was filled with images of a hustler like you."

"And ever since I saw you pouring white satin into your classy chassis, I know you were the biddie for me."

They begin to explore the ivories with their tapes. The balloon room is filled with smoke from the golden leaf. Stagger Lee lays Simone down on the floor and cops a squat next to her. He sips the grapes of wrath and begins to gobble. "From out front I knew I wanted you. It's not like I'm always fruiting, but I'm frantic about you."

"Stagger Lee, there's no place else on apollo play I'd rather be. Let's get the ground rations." She drags her forks slowly across the bark of Stagger Lee's beezer. Their attics are filled with birdwood and nasties. "Don't be a glass jaw, Stagger Lee. "

With that Stagger Lee removes his orchestra. Simone lets out an armstrong and caresses Stagger Lee's collywobbles. Stagger Lee slips his aspen leaf into her sails. "Careful, Stagger Lee. I don't want cupid's itch or an expense." X-eyed they put the bo ots to each other.

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