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See also: hep cat


Alternative forms[edit]


From hep +‎ cat, from hep (sophisticated, aware). Compare cat (jazz enthusiast).[1] Attested in the sense of “sophisticated person” from the 1920s.[2]


hepcat (plural hepcats)

  1. (informal, music) A jazz performer, especially one from the 1940s and 1950s.
  2. (informal, dated, now often humorous) A person associated with the jazz subculture of the 1940s and 1950s.
    Synonym: hepster
    • 1943 May 9, Orlando Suero, “Jive, as a Hep-Cat Hears it”, in The New York Times[2], ISSN 0362-4331:
      Everybody is asking, Why is Harry such a solid sender? Well, hear my version. As you are seated or are trying to stay seated you feel that sensation that hits every hep-cat. First your feet get the sensation, then it runs up your leg and you start to keep time to the music with your feet and you feel like getting up and jiving to that fine music that comes out of the magic trumpet of Harry James.
    • 1943 June 20, John Desmond, “Making Catnip for the Hepcats”, in The New York Times[3], ISSN 0362-4331:
      Leaders of the eight or nine name dance bands, who can throw a cordon of jitterbugging youths around any big city's theatre on a half hour's notice, are not complaining aloud these days, but privately they admit that “government competition” is having a lot to do with their ability to get it hot or sweet to suit the mood of the hepcats.
  3. (informal, dated) A sophisticated person, one who is stylish.
    • 2016 August 14, Ross Douthat, “A Playboy for President”, in The New York Times[4]:
      Today he’s just a sleazy oldster, but in the beginning he was a faux philosopher, preaching a gospel cribbed from bohemia and various Freudian enemies of repression, in which the blessed pursuit of promiscuity was the human birthright. But really a male birthright, for a certain kind of man: The sort of hep cat who loved inviting the ladies back to his pad “for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.”

See also[edit]


  1. ^ hepcat, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, March 2018.
  2. ^ Jonathon Green (2019) , “hep-cat, n.”, in Green's Dictionary of Slang[1]