Just For Fun Friday: Cockney Rhyming Slang

“Got to me mickey, found me way up the apples, put on me whistle and the bloody dog went. It was me trouble telling me to fetch the teapots.” 

Translation: “Got to my house (mickey mouse), found my way up the stairs (apples and pears), put on my suit (whistle and flute) when the phone (dog and bone) rang. It was my wife (trouble and strife) telling me to get the kids (teapot lids).”

WHAT IN THE WORLD? Well, today my friends, we are embarking upon a new kind of education. Language is, after all, a funny thing. So in this Just For Fun Friday, we consider perhaps the most extreme of local language oddities – Cockney Rhyming Slang.

Cockney Rhyming Slang is a dialect that has its origins in the East End of London. Used to varying degrees today (but with a number of words now found in standard English conversation), it has been popularised by films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – and basically anything that contains Jason Statham. Having grown up on the timeless BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, my love for this fantastic linguistic construction will never die. Today, I share with you some of my favourite words/phrases for everyday use and ask that you help me in making Cockney Rhyming Slang a global phenomenon.

Cockney Rhyming Slang: A Beginner’s Guide

The word(s) in brackets indicates standard usage in conversation – typically dropping the second word of the phrase. 

Alone = Tod Sloan (‘On your tod’)

Arse = Khyber Pass (‘Khyber’)

Believe = Adam and Eve

Coat = Weasel and Stoat (‘Weasel’)

Curry = Ruby Murray (‘Ruby’)

Deaf = Mutt and Jeff (‘Mutton’)

Eyes = Mince Pies (‘Mincies’)

Face = Boat Race (‘Boat’)

Fake = Sexton Blake (‘Sexton’)

Feet = Plates of Meat (‘Meat’)

Gravy = Army and Navy (‘Army’)

Hair = Barnet Fair (‘Barnet’)

Head = Loaf of Bread (‘Loaf’)

It’s all gone wrong = It’s all gone Pete Tong

Look = Butcher’s Hook (‘Butchers’)

Money = Bread and Honey (‘Bread’)

Mouth = North and South

Neck = Gregory Peck (‘Gregory’)

Phone = Dog and Bone

Talk = Rabbit and Pork (‘Rabbit’)

Tea = Rosie Lee (‘Rosie’)

Teeth = Hampstead Heaths (‘Hampsteads’)

Thief = Tea Leaf

Tired (Knackered) = Cream Crackered

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