Can you translate all this 1950s slang heard in Perry Mason?

Are you a true hepcat, baby?

"The Case of the Jaded Joker" is one of our favorite Perry Mason episodes, perhaps just for the moment alone when Della Street blurts, "Dig the hipster!" To which the aged Lt. Tragg, holding a smoke, says, "Don't bug me, granny."

Yep, this case is about beatniks. But that is not all. The plot centers around a wash-up "chuckleman" named Danny Ross (Frankie Laine), who peppers his lines with Yiddish. His two hangers-on, Freddie (Walter Burke, giving a wonderful Willem Dafoe-esque performance) and Buzzie (Bobby Troupe, the jazz pianist who wrote the song "Route 66") become the main suspects, and stuff each scene with gobs of beatnik and hard-boiled slang.

You get lines like, "The cool ones take the tail out of their faces," "I'm beat, daddy," and "I don't dig slick chicks tryin' to goof me up."

Let's see how well you can understand all the slang in one wonderful Perry Mason episode!

Watch Perry Mason on MeTV!

Weekdays at 9 AM
Weeknights at 11:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
  1. What's a "square"?
  2. Della asks Perry, "What's a schnook?" How does Perry define it?
  3. Throughout the episode they keep talking about how the body was found in a "kneehole." What's a kneehole?
  4. What are "hot mitts"?
  5. Is "boffo" good or bad?
  6. What does it mean to "go for a snort"?
  7. Buzzie says, "Slobs go for smash." What is smash?
  8. What is Tragg talking about when he says "tea"?
  9. What is the "island"?
  10. What is a "ganef"?
  11. What is Freddie talking about when he talks about "jostlin'"?
  12. What best defines a "megillah"?

Can you translate all this 1950s slang heard in Perry Mason?

Your Result...

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61 Comments

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MarkSpeck 24 days ago
10 out of 12. Missed the last two.
Pacificsun 24 days ago
MeTV's "Search" feature no longer works. So I could not isolate stories about the show "Perry Mason" and Raymond Burr. So I will leave this little gem here in case any fans come across it anyway.

Here's a VERY rare clip (introduced by Barbara Hale) of Raymond Burr auditioning (screen testing) for the Hamilton Burger role, opposite another actor playing Perry Mason. You can thank your lucky stars that Mr. Burr failed the screen test. Apparently.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv22BnAMJUg
srrainwater 26 days ago
8/12. It’s the cats pajamas......Daddy O
Wiseguy 26 days ago
"Wash-up" should be "washed-up."
JerseyMike178 27 days ago
Whoever did these questions is strictly from the Land of Cube. You boys are lighting up the tilt sign to think this has anything to do with the Beats. MeTV had the most famous, coolest Beat of all time in Kookie from 77 Sunset Strip and you canceled the show!
He was the inspiration for Fonzie, he became such a rage that at one point he was on the cover of more magazines and the subject of more newspaper stories than any other star in the world!
Every male teen wanted to dress like and be him and repeated whatever beat/slang words he used on the latest episode. 77 Sunset Strip also had without a doubt the greatest collection of guest starlets in the history of TV. Donna Douglas never looked better, in fact she was astoundingly beautiful in her stint on the series. Even Sherry Jackson paled next to Donna. And MeTv blew it big time by NEVER promoting this series, and running it at 4 AM. It had style, great music, the coolest("ginchiest")
patter ever, and Victor Buono as Bongo Benny was the most stylish Beat ever.
If you guys had promoted it properly you might have had a retro hit on your hands. But no, you instead put on cookie cutter crappola like Barnaby Jones(Buddy Ebsen sleep walking thru his part) and Cannon. 77 Sunset Strip even featured on 3 episodes the legendary Beatnik Cafe Chez Paulette and its host Max. Bring back 77 Sunset Strip!
HEYYYY!!!! CANNON IS HOT!!! Don't diss my WC! Such a stud.
Oh, and Kookie is a dork, by the way. What a wimp. Always combing his greasy hair.
jholton30062 27 days ago
You got 11 out of 12. Missed "jostlin'".
ChapSchoon 27 days ago
Like do ya think I'm Meshuga? I don't dig those dweebs that do all the hatin' when da show brings such unhip vibes that make ya wanna scat when every slick chick and daddio split da scene.
MrBill 27 days ago
5/12; I never was very good at understanding slang. I have seen all the episodes of PM but it did not help me much with this quiz.
daDoctah 27 days ago
My mother, who went to high school in the early '50s, said there was one slang term of the time even she couldn't figure out: "zorch". She said she was never sure if it was something good or bad.
I believe it's Yiddish for vagina.
catbow 27 days ago
9 out of 12. Not bad for someone who's only seen a few episodes since this past summer. So I'd say I'm more hepcat than square. Lol
littledebbie 29 days ago
I got 11 out of 12. Half of them were wild guesses
janet0312 29 days ago
I missed Jostlin and ganef. Where's Kooky when you need him, fellow hipsters?
On a shopping spree, dropping piles of fresh cabbage at Comb World?
In the 77 Sunset Strip Mall?
Right across from the 7-11!
MarkSpeck janet0312 24 days ago
Ganef, I knew to be 'Goneff', which is Yiddish for 'thief'. There was a character by that nickname in Garrison's Gorillas who was a thief. That was how I figured that one out.
Pacificsun 29 days ago
I bet nobody gets a 100% on this quiz!
Kevin 29 days ago
I went for megillah for oaf , because of Magilla Gorilla.
Laura 29 days ago
11 out of 12. I love Perry and all of his colleagues.
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