Hard Speil and Hidey-Ho: Cab Calloway’s Hepster’s Dictionary (1940)

history, music, writing
en:Cab Calloway photographed by en:Carl Van Ve...

The heppest.

From the introduction:

Some six years ago I compiled the first glossary of words, expressions, and the general patois employed by musicians and entertainers in New York’s teeming Harlem. That the general public agreed with me is amply evidenced by the fact that the present issue is the sixth edition since 1938 and is the official jive language reference book of the New York Public Library.

“Jive talk” is now an everyday part of the English language. Its usage is now accepted in the movies, on the stage, and in the song products of Tin Pan Alley. It is reasonable to assume that jive will find new avenues in such hitherto remote places as Australia, the South Pacific, North Africa, China, Italy, France, Sicily, and inevitably Germany and wherever our Armed Forces may serve.

I don’t want to lend the impression here that the many words contained in this edition are the figments of my imagination. They were gathered from every conceivable source. Many first saw the light of printer’s ink in Billy Rowe’s widely read column “The Notebook,” in the Pittsburgh Courier.

To the many persons who have contributed to this and the other editions, this volume is respectfully and gratefully dedicated.

—Cab Calloway

This concept is sublime and the document heretofore unknown to me. Thanks to Mr. Salk for another fantastic tip.  Read the dictionary here.

A sample from the A section:

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