Slang of 1912 (including "pizzazz")

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Jan 31 01:34:15 UTC 2005

 From N'archive:


_Mansfield News_ (Mansfield OH), 7 Dec. 1912: p. 10(?), col. 3:


The Clean Language League of America, which is plum nuts about being dead
set against slang, cuss words, risque stories, purple ragtime and wriggly
cabaret shindigs -- not because it cares a whoop, but because such things
always sound like heck to strangers -- held a wild-eyed jamboree here
tonight and cooked up plans for a grand hallelujah campaign to induce
everybody to climb into the pure-words wagon and swear off on throwing the
lowbrow lingo. Quite a considerable bunch of language bugs took the splurge
and the enthusiasm was all to the velvet.

According to the dope that was passed out today by one of the high moguls,
Tommy Russell, the main doing tonight was to pick out a publicity gang
which will have the job of throwing this line of bull into every state in
the union, being particularly strong on the schools and colleges, and not
passing up the educational hangouts for skirts. The side show of the
movement will be to go after the kind of music that you hear in the
all-night dumps and the public hog-rassles. Brother Russell declared, bo,
that his crowd had already framed it up with some of the big guys in the
music world to put the kibosh on this line of junk, and that it was only a
question of time before they would have such pieces as "When I Get You
Alone Tonight" completely on the pizzazz.

Another idea of the league is to put a straw boss in every other state for
the purpose of hitching up with mutts as dippy as himself in order to help
the good word along. This state gink is to be a sort of an
Old-Miss-Over-All and the purity expert in his particular neck of the woods.

The crowd passed a whole lot of hifalutin resolutions. They said that it
made them as sore as a goat to have to hear mothers using slang in the
presence of the kids, because it was a 10 to 1 shot that it would put the
little duffers' morals on the blink. They said that sister must not say
"fudge" -- not even when there was nobody but guineas around -- because
"fudge" wasn't a proper dido to find in the flossie's vocabulary.

They pulled quite a bunch of stuff about what was O.K. for little brother
to let himself loose on, but they swore to goodness that "doggone" was a
doggone bad thing to say, and that "gosh darn" was putrid, and that "hully
gee" and "I'll be swimdiggled" were expressions that a mucker might use,
but that a giltedged young gazabo would never attempt to play up, even
before a coon.

The language [sic] said that fathers must not say --!**?!--!, no matter if
a guy waltzed up and walloped poor old pop on the beezer, and that only
pie-trimmers and hash-slingers would ever condescend to come across with
such rough stiff as "Aw, nix on that," "Cheese it" and "Shut your trap."



I think this is an early appearance of "pizzazz" but the word does not seem
to be in its usual (later) sense. "Hog-wrestle" and the interjection
"fudge" seem to be early, too, and maybe some other items.

-- Doug Wilson

More information about the Ads-l mailing list