Saturday, March 27, 2010

1950s American Slang Word(s) of the Day #17

Our 1950s American Slang Word of the Day today is:

Dame: n. a woman or girl, esp. a troublesome one. Orig. "Dame" implied a young woman considered attractive but not wholly respectable by the speaker. Depending on the emphasis, it can now mean a promiscuous woman, (probably the most frequent use since c. 1940) a sexually attractive woman, an unemotional, sexless woman worker, or even an ugly old woman.
                             Gloria Grahme in 'The Big Heat'; image from Film Noir Photos

Example:  "All any of these dames owe me is a night's work, one night at a time. They come and go like flies...Outside of my place, some of these babes keep pretty shady company. It figures. They know nobody cares much what happens to 'em...They're floaters, not much more than a suitcase full of nothin' between them and the gutter." (quote from "The Big Heat" 1953) 


Clarification: The young women who work for me can be quite troublesome. The lifestyles they lead cause them to work only occasionally. I've known them to spend time with characters of ill repute outside of the workplace. It makes sense because these young ladies often have no family or friends to care for them. They are vagrants; they change employment and travel from town to town. They have extremely little in the way of money or worldly goods and are close to living in squalid, degraded conditions.

4 comments:

  1. Haha, I love the clarification. Dame. What a word! I'd like for it to re-enter our modern lexicon, like hipster did.

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOL! I love this one. I try to use dame all the time! I do however sound a bit silly!

    ReplyDelete
  3. yes I've heard frank sinatra say that in the movie "the tender trap"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Another Smart post from you Admin :)
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    ReplyDelete

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