Purpose of this Glossary


Due to his “telegraphic” writing style and fast-paced plots, James Ellroy often leaves little room for explanation of the period-specific and technical language he utilizes through much of his writing, occasionally leaving readers scouring through dictionaries or the internet to figure out what was just said. This glossary aims to assist readers in decoding that language.

Glossary - A
ADW: Assault with a Deadly Weapon
ASAC: Assistant Special Agent in Charge

B
Big Q: San Quentin Prison
Blue: a uniformed cop
Bonaroo: cool
Boost: steal
bubbkis or bupkis: nothing

C
CO: Commanding Officer
Cheaters: eyeglasses
Cipher: loner
Clout: steal

D
DL: Driver's License
DT's: symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (delerium tremens)
Ding: mentally ill prisoner

F
FI: Field Interview
Finger: a witness prepared to testify against a suspect
from hunger: very bad or inept

G
Glom: pick up; perceive
Goat: caddy
Grok: accuse
GTA: Grand Theft Auto
Gunsel: armed criminal

H
harness bull: a uniformed cop
heister: armed robber
highball: v. to move quickly; n. a mixed drink; cocktail
hinky: suspicious
hink [to]: to become aware of

I
IA or IAD: Internal Affairs Department

J
Jack: money
Jacked: high on drugs
Juice: power
Juicehead: alcoholic
Juke: insult or kill

K
Kibosh: to put an end to
Kipe: steal
Knosh or nosh: eat

L
Lamster: fugitive from the law
Lubed: drunk

M
ME: Medical Examiner
MO: Modus Operandi

N
NMI: No Middle Initial

P
PFC: Private First Class
PO: Probation Officer

Q
Qt: short for quiet
Quail: attractive woman

R
Rebop: bullshit
R&I: Records and Information department
Roscoe: gun
Roust: arrest

S
SAC: Special Agent in Charge
SOP: Standard Operating Procedure
SRO: Standing Room Only
Sawbuck: ten dollars
Scoot: a dollar
Scratch: money
Shakedown: to exort money from
Snarf: eat
Snuff: murder
Sub rosa: secret
Swish: gay man

T
Tomato: a woman
Toss: search
Trotters: horse races
Twist: a woman