BARBERSHOP SLANG (Written with tongue firmly planted in cheek.)

So that’s what they mean when they say that!

 A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H     I     J     K     L     M     N     O     P     R     S     T     U     V     W     X     Y     Z


A & R     Analysis and Recommendation.  Often called Aggravation and Ridicule.

Afterglow      A cast party after the show.

After – Afterglow     A smaller, more private party that takes place after an afterglow.

AHSOW      Ancient Harmonious Society of Woodshedders.

Ambigesturous      The ability to perform the chores moves from either side of the risers




Barbershop 7th     A  flat 7th chord used frequently in barbershop arrangements.  (e.g., C – E – G – Bb)

Barbershop Brats     Children of barber shoppers, who often become members – a precious commodity.

Barbershop Squat     A physical stance at the end of a song that looks amateurish and hokey.

Barbershop Widow / Widower     The spouse of a very active barbershopper who doesn’t participate in the hobby.

Barber Speak     A method of speaking a song as if one was singing the part.

Barbersteens     Teenaged children of barber shoppers – the smartest of all.

Barbertots     Young children of barber shoppers – also a precious commodity.

Bell Chord     Notes sung on successive beats, as in “Bye, Bye, Blues” by the Suntones.

Belt     When a man takes his chest voice up into his head voice range – AKA Sing loudly.

Bipartite / Tripartite     Able to sing multiple voice parts.

Bisectional     A person that can sing more than one voice part . . . hopefully, not simultaneously.

Blead     A fifth voice part consisting of part lead and part baritone, usually sung by a member who has been absent for a while.

Borneo Barbershop     An exercise where the bass is sung an octave high OR the tenor an octave low.

Breathing Dips     Singers who breathe where they are not supposed to

Bust a Chord    Singing.



Car Toy     The cassette tape or CD one carries in the car to learn one’s part.  Directors use this method to describe a phrase of a song they want a section to work on in the car . . . with repetition.

Cascade    A musical device where a unison note spreads to form a chord.  Also called “waterfall.”

Chameleon    A person who can sing all four parts.

Chestnut    An old, familiar song.

Chorditorium      A convention afterglow where non-qualifying quartets can strut their stuff.

Chordus Interruptus   When the director stops the chorus just before a paint-peeling tag.

Chordworship     Holding a chord longer than necessary just to enjoy it..

Chorus Dips     Singers who do exactly the opposite of what the director asks.

Coning     Adjusting volume inversely with pitch to balance a chord.

Cookie     A pitch-pipe

Crank     Sing loudly.

Crow     A self-confessed non-singer who performs mundane chores nobody else wants to do.  See Invaluable.




Diction Dips     Singers who exaggerate the hard consonants.

Diphthong Dips      Singers who over-emphasize the diphthongs.



Edge     Beginning of the music score.

Eagles     A politically correct term of “Crows.”

Ear Candy     An audible overtone or harmonic that produces an especially pleasing chord.



Fettucine Singing     Sliding between notes when clean intervals are dictated.

Fifth Wheel     Uninvited singing along with (or near) a quartet.  Considered poor manners.

Float     Blending a part into a chord gracefully.  Usually tenor.



Gang Singing     A collection of singers that are not an organized unit.

Garbage Part     A negative term for the baritone part.

Glimmer     An after, after, after-glow.

Groaner     A bad joke, story or pun.

Grundy     See Scissors Movement

Gut-Buster     A robust up-tune.



Hang Ten     Standing on the risers with ten toes over the edge.

Honker     A person who sings loudly and/or in a garish manner.  Often a bass singer.

Hospitality Room     A party room at a convention for informal entertainment, socializing, and stale pretzels.

Hum Spot     The placement of one’s voice that makes the mask resonate.



Kibber     An endearing term for a barber shopper that prefers to Keep It Barbershop!



Laser Lungs     A singer, usually a tenor, who sings high notes very loudly and out-of-balance.

Lead Dodging     The art of woodshedding the baritone part.  Also called Lead Avoidance.

Leaner     A person that does not have the courage or ability to sing on his/her own, or is not well rehearsed in the music.

Line Singing     Each part gets into a line and rotates singing as a quartet.



Mic Testers     A quartet or chorus which sings at the beginning of a contest to ensure the sound systems’ performance.



Oh Yeah . . .     An utterance from the chorus, when the director says, “For the 2000th time, you’re supposed to get soft here.”

Oh Yeah Song     A song with an unfamiliar verse and a very familiar chorus.  Refers to audience’s comments as chorus begins.

Onion Skin     A minute adjustment in pitch.

Opus Interruptus     When the hotel security guard stops you in the middle of a song.  Usually occurs at 3 am,  Sunday morning.

Out-of-Spots     Singing without music in front of you.



Patter     A verbose variation on the theme of a refrain, as in “Down Our Way.”  Also jokes and stuff between songs.

Peeling Paint     Locking-and-ringing a chord.

Pick-Up Quartet     Any four singers, not an established quartet, singing a song they commonly know.

Ping     Focused, bright ringing sound.

Polecat     Referring to a collection of common songs for any/every barbershopper, such as “Heart of My Heart” or “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

Post     A note, long in duration, sung usually by a lead singer, around which a tag is formed.



Riser Rat     Any chorus member who is not in the front row.

Round Robin     An activity wherein four or more wood shedders sit in a circle and progressively rotate voice parts.



Scissors Movement     Two voice parts that cross each other, while the other two voice parts sustain, leading to an inversion of the chord.

Shoulder-Raiser     A listeners physical reaction to a singer who doesn’t quite reach his/her note.

Singlish     A method of singing a song as if one was speaking the part, phonetically connective.

Skunk Song     A melody essentially useless for woodshedding purposes because of an existing familiar arrangement.

Slab     To sing slowly through a measure chord by chord, also called blocking.

Singing Around     After a contest or show quartets travel around singing in various places or rooms.

Spank     Great vocal execution as in “Boy, that lead spanks!”




Tag     The ending of a song often added as an afterthought can can be sung independently from the song.

Tag Quartet     Four singers begin a song and one-by-one are replaced by a new singer – tagged out, if you will.

Tear Jerker     A tender, sentimental ballad that evokes emotion.

Tiddly     A musical embellishment, usually by a baritone.

Toe-Tapper     An up-tune with great rhythmic pulse.

Train Wreck     When one or more parts sing a wrong note and the resulting chord sounds like a railway calamity.




VLQ     Very Large Quartet – or mini-chorus, if you will.



Wall of Sound     Seamless, continuous vocalization.

Whomp-Ping Ratio     The ratio of resonance to ping in the voice.

Woodshed     To improvise your part in a song.



Yawner     A very boring and poor performance of a song.

Yodel-Chorus     A phenomenon in woodshedding, where two voices land on the same note and simultaneously move to the missing part.