Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Glossary of Taxicab Words and Phrases

Next time you're in a cab, pretend that you're an "insider" by spitting this antiquated slang (as reported in the November 3, 1928 New Yorker).

Bonus points if you're drunk and incoherent!

Acordion Pleat--The ripple a driver puts in your fender when you get in his way.

Back to the Yellows--The Yellow Taxicab Corporation is popularly supposed to employ only beginners. "Back to the Yellows" is synonymous with "Go back to school."

Copping the Cards--Confiscation by the police of a hacking license, for some infringement of the regulations.

Curb Cruiser--A girl waiting for a lift, but not in a taxicab.

Glims--Headlights

Hack--A familiar and affectionate term for a taxicab.

Pound--A pound is five dollars. Used in offering a cop "his bit," instead of mentioning cash, which would be bribery. Three pounds is sometimes said to get rid of a speeding ticket.

Sea-Going Hack--A taxicab that stays out all night.

Sunday Driver--Any operator of a pleasure car causing a minor collision.

Weasel--A driver who cuts in between another taxi and a prospective fare.

9 comments:

The Vicar of VHS said...

>>Weasel--A driver who cuts in between another taxi and a prospective fare.

I think they probably use a different term for this now. :)

I love the old slang, especially the noir/gangster stuff. Have you seen Brick, the high-school noir flick that came out a couple of years ago? It's like Raymond Chandler goes to high school, and all the kids talk in the old 30s/40s tough guy slang. It's so rapid and expressive as to be almost Shakespearean.

Great movie, imo, though I know others didn't like it as much as I did.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I haven't seen that! I'll have to keep my eye out, I'm a big fan of the period slang myself (though I've learned not to try to use it in everyday conversation..."have a snort" means something different in bars these days).

In a mid-'50s radio program ("Smiths of Hollywood") I recently heard one of the characters give a name for a style of '50s slang: "Abbreving."

You can hear some great "Abbreving" in "The Lost Weekend." The hardboiled female character is always saying things like "Don't be ridic!" and "Def but def!" and "Natch."

scott said...

Brick is a great little flick. The two kids talking tough guy to one another until the guy's Mom comes in. Then they sit there eying one another uncomfortably as she offers them milk and cookies. Hilarious.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Two endorsements! "Brick" it is.

Anonymous said...

"Brick" is the bee's knees and cat's pajamas all rolled into one!

You'll go ga-ga!

Muffy St. Bernard said...

It's obviously the tops!

The Vicar of VHS said...

>>The two kids talking tough guy to one another until the guy's Mom comes in.

That scene is absolutely brilliant. I was laughing so much I could barely follow the conversation.

And Muffy, when you watch "Brick" (and you must, my dear, you MUST), I hope to see a review here.

The Vicar of VHS said...

And of course, I have to quote this great Frank Loesser tune (which Google tells me was covered by Tori Amos, among others!)--"Murder, He Says":

Finally found a fella
almost completely divine
but his vocabulary
is killing this romance of mine

We get into an intimate situation
and then begins this character's conversation:

He says, "Murder!" he says
every time we kiss
He says, "Murder!" he says
at a time like this
He says, "Murder!" he says
Is that the language of love?

He says, "Solid!" he says
takes me in his arms
and says, "Solid!" he says
meaning all my charms
He says, "Solid!" he says
Is that the language of love?

He says, "Chick, chick,
you torture me,
Zoot! Are we livin?"
I'm thinkin' of leaving him flat

He says, "Dig dig the jumps
the old ticker is givin!"
Now he can talk plainer than that!

He says, "Murder!" he says
every time we kiss
He says, "Murder!" he says
keep it up like this
and that murder he says
in that impossible tone

will bring on nobody's murder
but his own!

He says, "Jackson," he says
and my name's Marie
He says, "Jackson," he says
"Shoot the snoot for me"
He says, "Jackson," he says
Is that the language of love?

He says, "Mmhmm,"
when he likes my hat
He says, "Tsk tsk tsk"
what the heck is that?
He says, "Woo hoo!" he says
Is that the language of love?

He says "Hep hep with helium,
now babe, we're cookin'!"
And other expressions to wit
He says, "We're in the groove
and the groove is good lookin'!"
It sounds like his uppers don't fit!

He says, "Murder!" he says
every time we kiss
He says, "Murder!" he says
keep it up like this
and that murder he says
in that impossible tone

will bring on nobody's murder
but his own!


:)

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Oh jeez, WHERE have I heard that song just recently?!? Or did I dream it?

Love it, love it, love it!