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
Bagman: a person who collects, carries, or distributes illegal payoff money
Beef: criminal charge
Big H: heroin
Bombed: drunk
bull: cop

C
CO: Commanding Officer
Cipher: loner
Clout: steal

D
DL: Driver's License
DT's: symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (delerium tremens)
Dagger: butch lesbian

F
FI: Field Interview
Finger: a witness prepared to testify against a suspect
fur book: pornography

G
Gelt: money (taken from Yiddish)
Glom: pick up; perceive
Goat: caddy

H
harness bull: a uniformed cop
heister: armed robber
hop: a narcotic drug, esp. opium

I
IA or IAD: Internal Affairs Department

J
Jack: money
Jaw: talk
Juice: power
Juicehead: alcoholic
Juke: insult or kill

K
KA-known associate
Knosh or nosh: eat

L
Lamster: fugitive from the law
Lox: low brow film

M
ME: Medical Examiner
MO: Modus Operandi

N
NMI: No Middle Initial

O
187: murder

P
Pill: -bullets
PFC: Private First Class
PO: Probation Officer

Q
Qt: short for quiet
Quail: attractive woman

R
Raisinjack: potent alcoholic brew made of fermented rasins
Roscoe: gun
Roundheels: a promiscuous woman

S
SAC: Special Agent in Charge
Scrape: an illegal abortion
Shill: a person who praises or publicize something or someone for reasons of self-interest
Sosh: rich kid
Swish: gay man

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

W
Wet arts: politically motivated murder

Y
YA: Youth Authority

Z
Zorched: intoxicated