Local History Thursday: Old Slang


Since long before I was a young whippersnapper, there have been some interesting slang expressions thrown around the Grand Valley region. The Mesa County Oral History Project is full of interviews with original settlers to this area. Indulge in a listen, and you may pick up on some ways of speech that inspire confusion, giggles, or eyebrow-raising. It might be utter fiddle-faddle, but by golly, let’s try some of these on for size:

“How long have you been out on the bum?”

This one means, “How long have you been out of work?” Early Mesa County resident Oscar Jaynes Winfield used this expression while discussing his time spent job hunting during the Great Depression.

“We were like a bunch of ducks in the summertime.” 

We loved swimming!

“Tut, tut!” 

A way to express annoyance, impatience, or mild reproof. If your mother “tut tuts” you, you’re probably in trouble and should go hide somewhere.

“He probably slipped his hobbles back home.” 

He may have been hiding a shady past.  In a Mesa County Oral History interview with E.H. Munro, this expression was used while discussing Munro’s service in the U.S. Army’s medical reserves during World War I.

“It smelled like he ate breakfast with a buzzard.” 

His breath had a less than desirable smell to it.

Feel free to impress your grandparents and throw these expressions around like you’ve been sucked into a time machine.  For more interesting tidbits about the ways of the past, visit the Mesa County Oral History Project.

Mesa County Oral History Project logo


Posted in General, Local History.

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