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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)

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
When Mackenzie some years subsequently published an account of his expeditions, he suggested the policy of opening an intercourse between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and forming regular establishments through the interior and at both extremes, as well as along the coasts and islands.
They were straitened on one side by the rivalry of the Hudson's Bay Company; then they had no good post on the Pacific where they could receive supplies by sea for their establishments beyond the mountains; nor, if they had one, could they ship their furs thence to China, that great mart for peltries; the Chinese trade being comprised in the monopoly of the East India Company.
War between the States, in the first period of their separate existence, would be accompanied with much greater distresses than it commonly is in those countries where regular military establishments have long obtained.
The jealousy of military establishments would postpone them as long as possible.
How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?
Not the less true is it, that the liberties of Rome proved the final victim to her military triumphs; and that the liberties of Europe, as far as they ever existed, have, with few exceptions, been the price of her military establishments. A standing force, therefore, is a dangerous, at the same time that it may be a necessary, provision.
They built eleven missionary establishments in the various valleys of the peninsula, which formed rallying places for the surrounding savages, where they gathered together as sheep into the fold, and surrendered themselves and their consciences into the hands of these spiritual pastors.
His stable and carriage-house presented the appear- ance of some of our large city livery establishments. His horses were of the finest form and noblest blood.
Baudoyer, Isidore The Middle Classes Cousin Pons Bianchon, Horace Father Goriot The Atheist's Mass Cesar Birotteau The Commission in Lunacy Lost Illusions A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Bachelor's Establishment The Secrets of a Princess Pierrette A Study of Woman Scenes from a Courtesan's Life Honorine The Seamy Side of History The Magic Skin A Second Home A Prince of Bohemia Letters of Two Brides The Muse of the Department The Imaginary Mistress The Middle Classes Cousin Betty The Country Parson In addition, M.
The air in the collar and cuff establishment strangled her.
At last they made arrangements, and I was transported to the establishment from which I now write you.
After each visit to Schneider's establishment, Evgenie Pavlovitch writes another letter, besides that to Colia, giving the most minute particulars concerning the invalid's condition.

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