Saturday, July 21, 2012

It was a doozy

In a book review several years ago I described a new book by a local author as being "a doozy." A reader, obviously unfamiliar with that bit of slang, called me to complain. He took the word to be a slam against the book, and he thought I should be more supportive of a local author. I had to explain that the word was actually highly complimentary. I even read the definition of the word from my dictionary to prove it.
I had grown up with the word doozy and it never occurred to me that anyone else might not know what it meant. But, in fact, there are scores of slang terms for excellence, and it is unlikely that any of us is familiar with all of them.

The book "Slang Down the Ages" by Jonathon Green devotes a dozen pages to slang words meaning excellence. The book was published in England, so many of the terms are more familiar there than on this side of the Atlantic. Here are some of the words Green mentions:

rum (This is believed to be related to Rome, not the alcoholic beverage.)
wicked, nasty, bad, vicious, mean (Our youth seem to favor negative words to express positive opinions.)
bang up
pink or in the pink
the cheese
yummy or scrummy
that's the ticket
just the hammer (This is believed to be related to the auction house, not the workshop.)
number one or numero uno
great shakes
hunky dory
neat, keen, peachy-keen
fab, groovy
socko, boffo
bodacious, hellacious

Green mentions a lot more slang words meaning, more or less, the same thing, but somehow he misses doozy. Apparently he never heard of it either.

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