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by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
Cockney Rhyming Slang

What is Cockney Rhyming Slang?

Cockney Rhyming slang is a coded language invented in the nineteenth century by Cockneys so they could speak in front of the police without being understood. It uses a phrase that rhymes with a word, instead of the word itself – thus ‘stairs’ becomes ‘apples and pears’, ‘phone’ becomes ‘dog and bone' and ‘word’ becomes ‘dicky bird’. It can become confusing when sometimes the rhyming part of the word is dropped: thus ‘daisies’ are ‘boots’ (from ‘daisy roots’).

What or who is a Cockney?

A cockney traditionally is a person born within hearing distance of the sound of Bow bells, meaning within the sound of the bells of the Church of St Mary Le Bow in Cheapside, London, EC2 and refers to an East London accent, however to most people living outside London the term Cockney means a Londoner.

History of Cockny Rhyming Slang
by Tony Scott. a Londoner now living in the US.

The cockney language can be traced back to the early part of the 19th Century, when Sir Robert Peel formed the first Police force stationed at Bow Street, London. They were known as the Bow Street Runners, Peelers and even Bobbies (Robert - Bob). This was in 1824, and the slang, as mentioned above, was to hide the true meaning of discussions from both the Police and the nonces (informers for the Police).

Examples of Cockney Rhyming Slang

Cockney Meaning Example
Adam and Eve Believe I don't Adam and Eve it!
Apples and Pears Stairs Get yer Bacons up the Apples and Pears.
Army and Navy Gravy Pass the Army and Navy.
Artful Dodger Lodger I've got an Artful to help pay the rent.
Bacon and Eggs Legs You have got a lovely set of Bacons.
Barnet Fair Hair I have just got my Barnet chopped.
Brass bands Hands I shook him by the Brass.
Bread and Honey Money I wish I had loads of Bread.
Butcher's Hook Look Take a Butcher's at that!
Christian Slater Later See ya Slater.
Cream Crackered Knackered (tired/broken) I'm Cream Crackered!
Currant Bun Sun The Currant Bun's hot today.
Danny Marr Car I'll give you a lift in the Danny.
Dicky Bird Word He hasn't said a Dicky bird in hours.
Dog and Bone Phone She's always on the Dog.
Donkey's Ears Years Ain't seen you in Donkeys.
Ham'n'cheesy Easy Ham'n'cheesy does it.
Jam Jar Car Me Jam Jar's Cream Crackered.
Jimmy Riddle Piddle (urinate) I really need to go for a Jimmy.
Lemon Squeezy Easy It was Lemon, mate.
Loaf of Bread Head He rarely using his loaf of bread.
Pete Tong Wrong Everything?s gone Pete Tong.
Plate of Meat Street I was walking down the Plate...
Plates of Meat Feet I've been on me Plates all day.
Pork Pies (Porkie Pies) Lies He's always telling Porkies.
Rabbit & Pork Talk She Rabbits on a bit.
Let's Rabbit and Pork.
Richard the Third Turd That bloke's a complete Richard.
Sweeney Todd Flying Squad (Police) Here come the Sweeney.
Syrup of Figs Wig Check out the Syrup on 'is head.
Tea Leaf Thief Watch it, he's a bloody Tea Leaf.
Weasel & Stoat Coat Pull on yer Weasel.
Whistle and Flute Suit I just got a new Whistle.

Cockney Rhyming Slang Translator

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
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Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consultant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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