The first appearance of the word and image in the United States came from the popular 1920 Frances Marion film, The Flapper, starring Olive Thomas. Thomas starred in a similar role in 1917, though it was not until The Flapper that the term was used. In her final movies, she was seen as the flapper image.
Other actresses, such as Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Colleen Moore and Joan Crawford would soon build their careers on the same image, achieving great popularity.
In the United States, popular contempt for Prohibition was a factor in the rise of the flapper. With legal saloons and cabarets closed, back alley speakeasies became prolific and popular. This discrepancy between the law-abiding, religion-based temperance movement and the actual ubiquitous consumption of alcohol led to widespread disdain for authority. Flapper independence may also have origins in the Gibson girls of the 1890s. Although that pre-war look does not resemble the flapper style, their independence may have led to the flapper wise-cracking tenacity 30 years later.
Flappers were associated with the use of a number of slang words, including "junk", "necker", "heavy necker" and "necking parties", although these words existed before the 1920s.
Flappers also used the word "jazz", though not specifically in the sense of a form of music, but more generally of anything exciting or fun. Their language sometimes reflected their feelings about dating, marriage and drinking habits: "I have to see a man about a dog" at this period often meant going to buy whiskey; and a "handcuff" or "manacle" was an engagement or wedding ring. Also reflective of their preoccupations were phrases to express approval, such as "That's so Jake", "That's the bee's knees," and the popular "the cat's meow" or "cat's pyjamas".