According to, the Random House Historical Dictionary of

American Slang H-R is out! I haven't finished antedating the first one.

"Gyp joint" is defined as "a business establishment that makes a

practice of fleecing customers." The earliest HDAS citation is in 1927 by T.

A. Dorgan, cited from the TAD LEXICON. As with the "hot dog," TAD didn't

coin the term.

This is from Variety, 6 January 1926, pg. 11, last column (5?):



Skull Examiners Visited

Many on Avenues

The phrenologists' "joints" that have sprung up like mushrooms just east

and west of the "big stem" (Broadway--ed.) are in for a cleanup, according to

Plainclothes Patrolman Charles Stapleton and Harold O'Neil of the West 47th

street station. Within a few days they "bagged" three. All were convicted.

In one case a suspended sentence was imposed. In the other two $10 fines

were meted out.

These alleged "gypsies" have migrated from other cities. Some came from

Canada. Maspeth, L. I. also sent a quota. They have "camped" on 6th, 7th,

8th and 9th avenues. At least a score of places are in operation.

During the day the "Romany" mother or sister in her gaudy costume stands

inside of the entrance. She raps on the glass panel to attract passersby.

She beckons and if lucky gets a customer. Inside the "camps" are countless


"Mother Gypsy" phrenologist, according to the sign on the door, beings

to read one's cranium. First she exacts her fee of $1. Then she starts out

looking for bumps.

First, the "gypsy" requests you place both hands in your hip pockets.

That is to determine if you are a "bull." (...)