Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.



barrelhouse A cheap, disreputable saloon; also, a loud, forceful, unpolished type of jazz. The name barrelhouse probably came from the practice of serving beer from kegs or barrels in less expensive bars. Of American origin, this word appeared in its slang sense in 1883 in Peck’s Bad Boy by George W. Peck. The musical sense of the term, however, which derived from the style of piano entertainment associated with such places, did not appear until 1926 in H. O. Osgood’s So this is Jazz.

but-and-ben A Scottish term for a two-room dwelling; a cottage. In use as early as 1724, the term is a combination of the Scots but ‘outer or front room’ and ben ‘inner or back room.’ R. Burton explains the term as follows:

Each house has two rooms, a “but” and a “ben” separated by a screen of corncanes…. The but, used as parlour, kitchen, and dormitory, opens upon the central square; the ben … serves for sleeping and for a storeroom. (Central Africa, in Journal, 1859)

the cooler A jail or prison, especially a solitary confinement cell. This U.S. slang term, which dates from 1884, originally referred to isolated cells where drunk or violent inmates were kept in order to “cool off.” The expression has since become more generalized and is now used popularly to mean simply jail or prison.

flea bag A dingy, squalid residence; a decrepit hotel or rooming house. The term alludes to a small, confined area infested with roaches, fleas, and other vermin. In modern usage, flea bag usually refers to a run-down building where low-cost rooms are available to destitute people.

The flea bag where I was living did not permit dogs. (John O’Hara, Pal Joey, 1939)

fleshpot A luxurious establishment offering its customers wanton pleasure and depravity; a brothel or house of ill repute. In the Old Testament (Exodus 16:3) this term describes the plenty of Egypt so sorely missed by the wandering Israelites. Its modern figurative meaning is decidedly different.

He would sally out for the flesh-pots to enjoy a hell raising binge. (W. R. and F. K. Simpson, Hockshop, 1954)

honky-tonk A disreputable nightspot; a tawdry cabaret; a chintzy establishment featuring cheap entertainment and music.

Others of possibly less talent were doing stalwart work as accompanists to the blues singers in the honky-tonks of New Orleans and St. Louis. (S. Traill, Concerning Jazz, 1957)

The origin of this expression lies in the tinny, honklike sounds of ragtime piano playing heard in cheap nightclubs and brothels; hence, the term’s adjectival use describing the pianos on which such music is played, or the music itself.

Happy, beery men thumping honky-tonk pianos. (Drive, Spring, 1972)

speak-easy A restaurant, bar, or nightspot where alcoholic beverages are sold illicitly. While the expression may have originated from the 19th-century British underworld’s speak-softly shop ‘a smuggler’s home or business establishment,’ it is more likely derived from the ease with which a tipsy person engages in conversation. The phrase was particularly commonplace during Prohibition, when it referred to the many clandestine establishments serving bootleg whiskey and moonshine.

Moe Smith and Izzy Einstein were the most dreaded prohibition agents who ever closed down a speakeasy. (Life, January 2, 1950)

References in classic literature ?
As nearly all the canning establishments were shut down, and all the girls hunting work, it will be readily understood that Marija did not find any.
There is all the difference in the world in the servants of Southern establishments, according to the character and capacity of the mistresses who have brought them up.
When those knights come, those establishments will empty themselves and go over to the enemy.
We located ourselves at the Jungfrau Hotel, one of those huge establishments which the needs of modern travel have created in every attractive spot on the continent.
His stable and carriage-house presented the appear- ance of some of our large city livery establishments.
I help to support the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.
Of the various European settlements upon this continent, which have finally merged in one independent nation, the first establishments were made at various times, by several nations, and under the influence of different motives.
WE HAVE seen the necessity of the Union, as our bulwark against foreign danger, as the conservator of peace among ourselves, as the guardian of our commerce and other common interests, as the only substitute for those military establishments which have subverted the liberties of the Old World, and as the proper antidote for the diseases of faction, which have proved fatal to other popular governments, and of which alarming symptoms have been betrayed by our own.
Passepartout wandered for several hours in the midst of this motley crowd, looking in at the windows of the rich and curious shops, the jewellery establishments glittering with quaint Japanese ornaments, the restaurants decked with streamers and banners, the tea-houses, where the odorous beverage was being drunk with saki, a liquor concocted from the fermentation of rice, and the comfortable smoking-houses, where they were puffing, not opium, which is almost unknown in Japan, but a very fine, stringy tobacco.
But don't mistake," said D'Artagnan, "there is more selfishness in my toast than perhaps you may think--for it is only in prosperous establishments that one is well received.
Ere long I had acquired as much facility in speaking French as set me at my ease with my pupils; and as I had encountered them on a right footing at the very beginning, and continued tenaciously to retain the advantage I had early gained, they never attempted mutiny, which circumstance, all who are in any degree acquainted with the ongoings of Belgian schools, and who know the relation in which professors and pupils too frequently stand towards each other in those establishments, will consider an important and uncommon one.
For there is nothing splendid about the establishments in question; and, not only are there no heaps of gold to be seen lying on their tables, but also there is very little money to be seen at all.

Full browser ?