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Slang from the Roaring 20s
Diction Notes from Robert E. Howard’s The Bull Dog Breed

“The big French cluck I had the row with.”

Cluck: a stupid or foolish person, from the Danish word for a short guttural sound

“…me, a ordinary ham-an’egger…”

Ham-an’ egger: A fighter who boxes to put food on the table.

“…that double-dash dog.”

Double-dash: a double expletive

“…that belayin’ pin on the rail.”

Belaying Pin: a rigging pin that doubled as a baton, common on sailing ships and still used to a much lesser degree for lashing and hauling freight on steam ships—a very handy weapon.

“…because birds all around were jumping up.”

Birds: easily riled up people.

“…and a bad egg to fool with.”

Bad Egg: an idiom for a dishonest, good for nothing, rotten person, first appearing in print as American slang in 1864

“…what sort of dub would take my place…”

Dub: a sort of blunt, backward person

“…lamming head on…”

Lamming: to hit someone hard, possibly related to Norwegian and Danish lamme to ‘paralyze.’

“…the crowd was clean ory-eyed…"

Ory: unfound

“…when I slewed around…”

Slew: to turn, shift or slide violently.

Collodion: a syrup of nitrocellulose in a mixture of alcohol and ether, used for coating things and for surgical dressings

A Well of Heroes

Add Comment
ShepFebruary 23, 2018 8:07 PM UTC

James—Bringing back this lexicon might save our young men from a soy-filled fate! Talk tough, act tough, be tough!

"I have a dream"—of a world filled with Bogarts, Cagneys, and Edward G. Robinsons.