View Full Version : 'Arm Candy' for 1920s

05-22-2007, 04:08 AM
Hello everyone,
Okay, so I have my MC thinking about the woman her ex-boyfriend married. In what's currently written, she thinks of the woman as 'arm candy'--a young, pretty, spoiled debutante. However, this is a new slang term (last 15-20 years) and this scene is in the early 1940s. My MC is in her 40s in the scene, so I think a slang term from the 1920s could be more appropriate.

So, does anyone know of a slang term from the 20s (America) that would mean approximately the same thing as 'arm candy' does today? Perferably something that won't require too much explanation?


05-22-2007, 04:11 AM
Trophy wife?

05-22-2007, 04:22 AM
Thanks, Scarlet, for the suggestion.
I'm gonna go try to find out when 'trophy wife' entered the lexicon.

05-22-2007, 04:31 AM
nope, trophy wife apparently came during the 80s in reference to CEOs marrying second wives who were young and beautiful (think 1st wives club).
Thanks for trying.

Histry Nerd
05-22-2007, 04:35 AM
Welcome, julief. Why not use a metaphor? Call her a bauble, or a glass bead, or a songbird. Something people will recognize as shiny and useless.


05-22-2007, 04:44 AM
That's an interesting suggestion, HN.
I like bauble or glass bead. I was thinking of something with a bit of a bite. But I could craft my own phrase around glass bead....


05-22-2007, 04:53 AM
Hi Julie - I've never heard of arm candy before (eye candy, yes). But, I'll throw some ideas out for you to consider - bon-bon, cream puff, sugar doodle, cat's meow, girl next door. From your description of what you want, I think cat's meow may fit best. Puma

05-22-2007, 05:10 AM
How about Dumb Dora (http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20010212)?

So there was this blonde who just got sick and tired of hearing dumb blonde jokes. So one evening she went home and memorized all the state capitals.

Back in the office the next day, some guy starts telling a dumb blonde joke. She interrupts: "I've had it up to HERE with these dumb blonde jokes. I want you to know that THIS blonde went home last night and did something probably none of you could do: I memorized all the state capitals!"

So one of the guys says, "Oh yeah? What's the capital of Wyoming?"

"W," she answers.

Bad dum dum.

05-22-2007, 05:13 AM
Lexicon of 20s slang: http://local.aaca.org/bntc/slang/slang.htm

05-22-2007, 05:18 AM
Sheba - A woman with sex appeal (from the move Queen of Sheba) or (e.g. Clara Bow)

baby vamp: an attractive or popular female

gold-digger (1925): a woman who pursues men for their money.

quiff: a slut or cheap prostitute

skirt: an attractive female

05-22-2007, 05:21 AM
baby vamp? LOVE it!

05-22-2007, 05:42 AM
ooo, I like Dumb Dora. The new wife is blonde. Thanks for the links, wyntermoon, very informative. Thanks for the other suggestions, Puma and lakewriter.

05-25-2007, 04:27 AM
Just finished a novel set in the 20s and 30s. Arm candy then would maybe be doll, which was big, or flapper, which was popular in cities like New York and Chicago. Google 20s slang and you'll lots of choices.

05-30-2007, 12:19 PM
Finally, something I actually know about. I do a lot of research into 20th century pop culture and society.

Mark McCutcheon has some pretty well researched and accessible books about slang and everyday life, including one set from Prohibition to WWII.

I lost my 'quick reply' but here's my take.

A guy would call a woman a "dame", a "doll" or a "tomato". Probably only a guy would call a girl a "baby vamp". That was the term used a lot in the magazine "College Humor" and by Fitzgerald and his ilk. It really refers to a flapper, implying a girl who's flirtatious without really being BAD. Kind of like "hotty" today.

One woman would probably not call another a doll, a dame, tomato, etc. unless she was working class.

Flappers popularized "dumbdora" and "dumbbell". Also the term "baby" or "babe" were commonly used by both genders, such as Louise Brooks (looking back in her old age) saying that "Clara Bow was the real jazz baby!" But again, if you called someone a "baby" or said they had "it", you were complimenting them, not insulting them.

If you're going for connotations of being "loose", then you might want to use "charity girl", "victory" or "V girl", "hussy", "playgirl".

"Bottle blonde" is also not very nice.

If she's a deb, she might just be called that, or a "junior miss". Depending on your MC's view of her, she might think of her as a "gilded lily", "princess", or a "cream puff".

If she's dumb, she might be compared to "Irma," like the dumb blonde on the radio program and movie (or to Jane Ace or Gracie Allen).

If you watch "The Women," (1939) it'll give you plenty of ideas as to how women of that period viewed their "rivals", including "debs".

05-31-2007, 05:32 AM
wow, below!
That was very informative. I will definitely have to check that movie out.
Thank you

05-31-2007, 05:37 AM
"The Women" is one of my daughter's favorite movies. Definitely worth watching. Puma

06-04-2007, 12:36 PM
You are most welcome! It sounds like a great story!

Azure Skye
06-05-2007, 12:12 AM
Some of the slang I picked up from watching old movies: Doll, Looker, An "It" girl, Dame, Tomato.

07-08-2008, 09:40 PM
Lexicon of 20s slang: http://local.aaca.org/bntc/slang/slang.htm

I know this thread ran last year, but I'm glad I found it! 1920's jargon is exactly what I need for my WIP.