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Monday, October 17, 2011

Vintage Vocabulary, Darling!

Hi everyone,

Before I begin today's topic (one that proves to be interesting, I hope) quick birthday wishes to three big Classic Hollywood stars: Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, and Montgomery Clift! In honor of the two girls, I added "Only Angels Have Wings" into my Netflix queue so you should anticipate a review for that... in the near future. ;) As for Monty, I've been wanting to see "A Place in the Sun" for a REALLY long time, but it's on a "short wait" at Netflix, so I guess I'll just have to wait.. longer... :( [Anyway- look for pictures of them throughout this post! :D]

Something I have noticed in classic films is though the way they speak is pretty much the same way we talk today, a lot of the "slang words" are different which obviously makes sense... I mean, the staples of the English language will forever stay consistent (I hope), but slang words change as trends change and as particular generations get older and new ones begin. (Like in my circle of teenage friends I don't find someone going, "Hey, that's groovy!" all that often, if you know what I mean. :D)

Having watched classic films for quite a while (and yeah, being obsessed with it helps too) I have picked up on my "vintage vocabulary" so much that it often filters into my everyday speak. I love vintage slang, especially from the 30's and 40's, because some of it is just so adorable! And considering a lot of words are dead these days, so to speak, it's even fun to say them to get a reaction out of people.

Here's the list of "vintage vocabulary" I came up with. If you can think of any I haven't included don't forget to leave me a comment with the word (and it's definition, just in case I haven't heard it) so I can add it in.

I present to you, a list of Vintage Vocabulary... (I tried to come up with the best Classic Hollywood related sentences I could; others seemed like lines out a film noir for me and I tried to express that but I think I failed most of the time...)

  • darling - [noun]; Used as an affectionate form of address to a beloved person. "Tallulah Bankhead called everyone 'darling'. Except she says it 'dahhling', you know."
  • dame - [noun]; An attractive woman. "Walter didn't plan on everything landing up this way, but Phyllis was a dame he could not resist."
  • heel - [noun]; a contemptibly dishonorable or irresponsible person. "Everyone thought that Gregory Peck was a total heel in 'Duel in the Sun'."
LOVE this photo - Gregory and Deborah on the beach!
  • gay - [adjective]; having or showing a merry, lively mood. "Then Cary Grant was wearing this frilly negligee and he jumped up and shouted at the woman, 'I went gay all of a sudden'!"
  • swell - [adjective]; excellent; first-class. "Gee I like to see you looking swell, baby! Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn't sell, baby..."
  • golly - [informal adjective]; used as a mild exclamation expressing surprise, wonder,puzzlement, pleasure, or the like. "Good golly, Miss Molly!"
Hedy dining with the birthday girl, Rita
  • gee whiz - [informal adjective]; arousing or characterized by surprise, wonder, or triumphant achievement. "Gee whiz, that Lucy is funny."
  • square - [noun]; old-fashioned in views, customs, appearance, etc. "Ava Gardner was certainly never a square."
  • scram - [verb]; to go away; get out. "Scram, kid, this ain't the place for you," snarled Bogie.
The other birthday girl, the lovely Jean Arthur 
  • broad - [noun]; an offensive term for a woman or a girl. "I thought Glenn Ford had a lot to put up with in that movie; Gilda was a real broad."
  • babydoll - [noun]; Used as an affectionate form of address to a pretty person. " 'Come with me, babydoll,' Cagney told the flapper."
  • slay - [verb];  To amuse somebody very much. "Groucho's sense of humor just slays me!" This was suggested by Martin.
The birthday boy, Monty, and friend Liz out for dinner. 
  • "Get a load of Bette Davis in this picture!"
  • "Ricky blew a fuse when he saw what Lucy had done."
  • "Frank Sinatra wanted to bust the chops of the reporter who took his picture." 
I couldn't do one of these photo things without a picture of Lucy! <3
I love this one, she's being a real "darling" in it, paining the nails of her stand in! And so carefully, too!
That was all the "vintage vocabulary" I could think of. By the way, I don't mean that these phrases or words aren't used today at all (though some are kind of extinct, like "heel"), just not as commonly, or in different contexts (with "gay", for example). If you can think of any others, drop me a comment and I'll add it in (with all due credit, of course)!

UPDATE: Friend and fellow blogger Natalie (In the Mood) composed her own list of vintage vocabulary as an addition to this post. She came up with some great ones that I missed, so be sure and check it out!! :)


StanwyckFan said...

Ah!! This was great!! I actually keep a list of vintage slang on hand...stuff I've picked up from movies most of the time. If you don't mind, I think I'll do an add-on to this on my own blog, and link back to yours too. :)

Carmen said...

Gee, this is swell. haha. I love it. Although I'm not a native English speaker, it's impossible to resist temptation, so sometimes I come up with some vintage slang (which I got, of course, from the movies). I love "golly!" in the Katie Hepburn style. You know ;) Even some of my friends have started using my darlings. It makes me laugh. Here, we call the use of English words in Spanish conversations "pochez". I guess I'm an old fashioned "pocha" (the adjective for the person) haha. I even had a list of favorites, but I lost it. Totally me...

Stephanie said...

What a great post! I found your blog via the LAMB site and love it. Great stuff :)

Clara said...

Nice list and very helpful! I have a question: near the end of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Holly exclaims "Golly Gee Damn!" that an uncommon expression? I mean, after reading your definitions, sounds like ultra repetitive in meaning :)


Rianna said...

Natalie - Thank you! No, I don't mind, I think it's a great idea. Can't wait to see what you come up with! :)

Carmen - Yeah, Kate style! I mean anything Kate says comes out sounding AWESOME because of her "Bryn Mawr" voice. (The same goes for Ingrid, with that accent!). SAME! I have a lot of my friends doing "darling" with me, I think the temptation is too hard to resist. ;) Hahaha, I like that word - "Pocha". A classic pocha.

Stephanie - Thanks!! I'm glad you like it. I really enjoy your blog, too. :)

Clara - Thank you!! :) I remember "Golly Gee Damn" - but I think it must be somewhat uncommon because you know the only place I remember hearing it was in that movie. Probably Holly's own creation. ;) And like you said, repetitive in it's meaning: surprise, excitement, etc. (I actually like that phrase the more I think about it - fun to say, lol). I hope that was helpful! :)

Martin Turnbull said...

Wow, this is a topic close to my heart. I am about to publish the first of a series of novels set during the classic years of Hollywood and I wanted the dialog to be as accurate as possible without OVERdoing it. If I may add to your of my favorites was 'slay' as in "That guy's sense of humor just slays me!". One of my useful finds was the Internet Guide to Jazz Age Slang. There are some doozies!

StanwyckFan said...

Frankly, My Dear, I just wanted to make sure you didn't miss my additions to your list:


Rianna said...

Martin - How interesting! Thanks for the word, I'll be adding it to the list as well as checking out the link.

Natalie - Frankly, my dear, I can't wait to see it! I'm going to link it on this blog, too. :)

David said...

Hello Rianna!

Great article, some wonderful slang terms in there. Took a quick peek over at Natalie's blog, and as she mentioned, "Ball of Fire" is a film with a bucket full of slang. :-)

Anyhow, I thought I'd share a link to a great compilation of slang terms spoken by such people as Bogart, Robinson, Cagney, Raft and the like. I guess it would tend to lean more on the "film noir" slang.

Take care,

Rianna said...

Thank you! Yes, Natalie had some great additions and "Ball of Fire" is definitely one I plan to see real soon.

Thanks for the link! I've looked it over and have already picked up some great terms; in fact, I already have a growing list of slang to add to this blog. Plus I'm loving film noir a lot lately, so the link is certainly appreciated. :)

Vocab Monk said...

Wow! Vocabulary comprehension is a crucial component in acquiring reading comprehension skills. Successful vocabulary development ensures that students will develop metacognitive skills which will assist children in comprehending advanced texts requirements when they leave the learning to read phase, and are expected to read to learn. helps you to grow your vocabulary.
Try it..!!

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