Home » Comments about Shep » JEAN SHEPHERD–Words and Phrases

JEAN SHEPHERD–Words and Phrases


Ever since I began seriously delving into the art and enigma of Jean Shepherd, I’ve been especially interested in his art/style of word usage.  In fact, for my first book, I had included in the Chapter 10 HURLING INVECTIVES Words, all his sayings. But they were edited out–not by me– and put in back as Appendix C SHEPHERDISMS. Who looks at appendixes anyway? I feel that removing most of the words and phrases from the Word chapter, weakens it–but, as they say in so many human constituencies as well as boondocks, one has to pick one’s battles.

At some point way back in the early days of getting that first book published, for whatever reason–maybe I just found myself with a few odd moments to spare and wanted to put together a compound word/graphic.  I’d be happy with any suggestions for better definitions and for other words and phrases.

The final form for this graphic, fitting on an 8  1/2 X 11″ sheet,

is folded  so that it is only the length and width of one box,

with the book cover image on top.

By clicking on and enlarging this image and then printing it,

one should be able to replicate my original format.

p.JS sayings

Excelsior, you fathead!




  1. Off the top of my head I can think of a few other words or expressions Shep used to punctuate a story or set a mood: He’d shout “whoopie,” when he wanted to set a mood of excitement, usually accompanied by kazoo playing and some uptempo music like “The Good Old Summer Time.”

    “Percy and Charles” were Shep’s thinly disguised parody of gay men, “Charles” was also his name for the husband of the “old lady” who would complain about “that man” on the radio and tell her husband to change the station. “Clarence” was the name he used for a young innocent, finding his way in the world. “Clarence” was also the name for the poor guy who was about to be hammered by life. “Bullard” was the name he gave to the blustering, bullying boss that everyone has encountered.

    He called listeners who sent him articles or stories from the papers his “spies,” implying that they were outsiders observing what went on in the “normal” world. I thought “brass figlagee with bronze oak leaf cluster (or palm)” was a parody of an Army medal.

    “Hold that in abeyance” was his usual instruction to the engineer to keep a piece of music ready to use again.

    Interestingly, his parody names were all males. I don’t recall any female names, except perhaps “Mabel.” Early on he spoke to a woman in his monologue as “baby,” using the hipster generic term for a girlfriend.

  2. Jane (London/Devon UK) says:

    Brass Figlagee — illumination!

  3. “Holey Smokes,” Harrumph Harumph, Brak brak” (Sounds made by the major from the comic strip “Our Boarding House.”

  4. We should also mention that Shep often addressed his listeners as “gang.” I listen to a lot of old radio programs, and notice that the announcers refer to the kids in the audience as “gang,” especially when doing commercials with premiums. I suspect this is a carryover from his early radio days. It also suggests that he saw his audience as a bunch of kids.

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