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Keep Your Tail Over the Dashboard

This week, McGimpers, geetus, and other underworld lingo from the 1930s. Crime novelist James Ellroy stops by to talk slang terms and reveals his own favorite. Also, is the expression “Hear, hear!” or “Here, here!”? Is it...

Leaving Out “That”

A police officer says that the prosecutor edits out the word “that” from the reports he submits, as in, “The subject stated that he met the co-defendant at a party.” Is the word “that” necessary here? Martha and...

Jakey Bums

A listener from Clifton Park, New York, says her grandfather was a police officer who used the term jakey bum to refer to undesirable characters. This is part of a complete episode.

Complainant vs. Complainer

A Connecticut cop says his dad, a retired professor of English and comparative literature at Yale, has been reading his son’s police reports. They disagree about whether complainant is a legitimate word, or whether it should be complainer...

Crime Lingo from the 1930s

Grant talks about the lingo of criminals from 1930s. Here are more examples from police reporter Ben Kendall’s 1931 Los Angeles Times article, “Underworld ‘Lingo’ Brought Up-to-Date.” This is part of a complete episode.


cee-lo  n.—Gloss: A type of the dice game craps. «He says the game pads his income substantially—he said he won $1,000 playing cee-lo in July alone. The game, played with a trio of dice for stakes that can range from a few dollars to a few...