Frank Sinatra Says The Lady Is a Tramp; He's Insulting Her, Right?

My understanding of 50’s-era slang is limited. When Frank sings “That’s why the lady is a tramp,” is he insulting her? To me it sounds like he’s calling her a low-class broad.

Or does (did) tramp mean something else in this context?

A close reading of the lyrics suggests that what he means is, “That’s why other people call the lady a tramp.” As in, she won’t conform to society’s expectations, so everyone disapproves of her.

Chef Troy got it. Because the lady in question does such “low-class” things as go to the beach at Coney Island and eat dinner earlier than 8 p.m., that’s obviously a sign that she’s of weak moral fiber, right?

The sarcasm/irony/whatever doesn’t really read in the song the way that most people sing it. But the lyrics themselves are much clearer.

I read somewhere that some singers would change the last line of the song to “this chick is a champ,” just to make sure the audience got it.

Please note that the original, from the musical Babes in Arms, was sung in the first person by the “tramp” in question:

[Note the pronoun used here]

It’s really a song of an independent thinker who doesn’t really care what the hoity-toity upper class thinks of her.

Yes, although “tramp” is/was an insult word, it is intended ironically, and the song is actually saying that she is an admirable, free-spirited lady with a mind of her own.

Having said that, I will admit that at one time I somehow got the idea that she was a jet-setter who thought nothing of going all the way to Hungary to have dinner at 8. :o

The kicker (in the original version — Sinatra bowdlerized it) is the ending:

I’m all alone when I lower my lamp.
That’s why the lady is a tramp.

In other words, the upper-crustaceans who call her a tramp are all sleeping around and she’s not.

This was the song I chose for my father/daughter dance at my wedding (didn’t happen, long story, he’s passed away). My dad was totally on board, the song sums me up pretty well.

The song was written in the 1930s by Rodgers and Hart. As others have said, tramp is meant to be a free spirited person who doesn’t conform to the narrow-mindedness of others

No it isn’t, and that is not at all what others have been saying. “Tramp” was an insult (meaning something like “slut” or even “hooker” at its strongest), but the point of the song is that the lady in question, although at risk of being taken for a tramp by some, is not really one at all, but is in fact an admirable free-spirit.

It’s obvious from Sinatra’s delivery in the song that he means the description in an affectionate way. He’s saying: “She’s got no airs and graces about her, she’s down to earth - that may offend the snobs, but I think she’s great.”

Doesn’t it mean both, though? I mean what about Lady and the Tramp? I doubt Disney would have chosen a name meaning whore.

That line is like the joke about the difference between a whore and a bitch.
A whore sleeps with everybody.
A bitch sleeps with everybody but you.
In the song the guy is pissed because she isn’t sleeping with him. So he calls her a tramp.

In that case, the tramp is a male - so they’re saying a hobo, or probably more correctly in that case, homeless.

The song actually dates to 1937, appearing in Rodgers and Hart’s Babes in Arms. Exactly when did Sinatra record his version? Because I’m wondering if he was capitalizing on the animated film Lady and the Tramp, which came out in 1955.


Well, there ya go.

From Merriam-Webster:

It’s very clear from the context that definition c is what’s meant in the song, but it’s intended ironically. Others perceive the woman as being a tramp because she doesn’t conform to high-class behavior, but she’s really not.

In the Disney movie, the Tramp is a male stray, and definition a is clearly meant.

Have you even listened to the song? That line doesn’t appear in the Sinatra version. It’s clear that the singer admires and feels affection for the lady in question. There’s no indication that he isn’t sleeping with her.

In theoriginal version, where that lyric appears, it’s sung by the woman herself.

Yes, then Disney Tramp is clearly not even close to any other sort of tramp that might be suggested by the song. But the movie was popular, and I can just see Ol’ Blue eyes sitting there thinking: “Hey, the movie title brings to mind that song. I think I’ll sing it anew.”

In the Great Depression era original, it refers explicitly to the “hobo/vagrant” meaning in several places.

The character, Bunny Byron is described this way:

In this version, it seems that the singer thinks she is looked down on mainly for being poor.

In the Sinatra version, however, I think the “loose woman” meaning is what’s implied.

She should just get a lower back tattoo and end the speculation.