Language: Top 100 Cockney Rhyming Slang Words and Phrases

Hot on the heels of our success with our Top 100 Best British Slang Phrases, we thought we’d explore the beauty of Cockney Rhyming Slang next.

Rhyming slang is believed to have originated in the mid-19th century in the East End of London, with sources suggesting some time in the 1840s. It dates from around 1840 among the predominantly Cockney population of the East End of London who are well-known for having a characteristic accent and speech patterns.

It remains a matter of speculation whether rhyming slang was a linguistic accident, a game, or a cryptolect developed intentionally to confuse non-locals. If deliberate, it may also have been used to maintain a sense of community. It is possible that it was used in the marketplace to allow vendors to talk amongst themselves in order to facilitate collusion, without customers knowing what they were saying. Another suggestion is that it may have been used by criminals (see thieves’ cant) to confuse the police.

Whatever the origins – there are many fun turns of phrases and we’ve put together the Top 100 Words and Phrases that we could find for your reading pleasure.

Here’s an interesting lesson on the slang from locals in London:

Top 100 Cockney Rhyming Slang Words and Phrases:

  1. Adam and Eve – believe
  2. Alan Whickers – knickers
  3. apples and pears – stairs
  4. Artful Dodger – lodger
  5. Ascot Races – braces
  6. Aunt Joanna – piano
  7. Baked Bean – Queen
  8. Baker’s Dozen – Cousin
  9. Ball and Chalk – Walk
  10. Barnaby Rudge – Judge
  11. Barnet Fair – hair
  12. Barney Rubble – trouble
  13. Battlecruiser – boozer
  14. bees and honey – money
  15. bird lime – time (in prison)
  16. Boat Race – face
  17. Bob Hope – soap
  18. bottle and glass – arse
  19. Brahms and Liszt – pissed (drunk)
  20. Brass Tacks – facts
  21. Bread and Cheese – sneeze
  22. Bread and Honey – money
  23. Bricks and Mortar – daughter
  24. Bristol City – breasts
  25. Brown Bread – dead
  26. Bubble and Squeak – Greek
  27. Bubble Bath – Laugh
  28. butcher’s hook – a look
  29. Chalfont St. Giles – piles
  30. Chalk Farm – arm
  31. china plate – mate (friend)
  32. Cock and Hen – ten
  33. Cows and Kisses – Missus (wife)
  34. currant bun – sun (also The Sun, a British newspaper)
  35. custard and jelly – telly (television)
  36. Daisy Roots – boots
  37. Darby and Joan – moan
  38. Dicky bird – word
  39. Dicky Dirt – shirt
  40. Dinky Doos – shoes
  41. dog and bone – phone
  42. dog’s meat – feet [from early 20th c.]
  43. Duck and Dive – skive
  44. Duke of Kent – rent
  45. dustbin lid – kid
  46. Elephant’s Trunk – drunk
  47. Fireman’s Hose – nose
  48. Flowery Dell – cell
  49. Frog and Toad – road
  50. Gypsy’s kiss – piss
  51. half-inch – pinch (to steal)
  52. Hampton Wick – prick
  53. Hank Marvin – starving
  54. irish pig – wig
  55. Isle of Wight – tights
  56. jam-jar – car
  57. Jayme Gibbs
  58. Jimmy Riddle – piddle
  59. joanna – piano (pronounced ‘pianna’ in Cockney)
  60. Khyber Pass – arse
  61. Kick and Prance – dance
  62. Lady Godiva – fiver
  63. Laugh n a joke – smoke
  64. Lionel Blairs – flares
  65. Loaf of Bread – head
  66. loop the loop – soup
  67. Mickey Bliss – piss
  68. Mince Pies – eyes
  69. Mork and Mindy – windy’
  70. north and south – mouth
  71. Orchestra stalls – balls
  72. Pat and Mick – sick
  73. Peckham Rye – tie
  74. plates of meat – feet
  75. Pony and Trap – crap
  76. raspberry ripple – nipple
  77. raspberry tart – fart
  78. Roast Pork – fork
  79. Rosy Lee – tea (drink)
  80. Round the Houses – trousers
  81. Rub-a-Dub – pub
  82. Ruby Murray – curry
  83. Sausage Roll – goal
  84. septic tank – Yank
  85. sherbert (short for sherbert dab) – cab (taxi)
  86. Skin and Blister – sister
  87. Sky Rocket – pocket
  88. Sweeney Todd – flying squad
  89. syrup of figs – wig (sic)
  90. tables and chairs – stairs
  91. tea leaf – thief
  92. Todd Sloane – alone
  93. Tom and Dick – sick
  94. tom tit – shit
  95. tomfoolery – jewellery
  96. Tommy Trinder – window
  97. trouble and strife – wife
  98. two and eight – state (of upset)
  99. Vera Lynn – gin
  100. whistle and flute – suit (of clothes)

Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!


Comments

  1. Leah says

    What I find funny is in my family we always used the phrase “Let’s get down to the brass tacks.” never realized where it might have come from.

      • rich8352 says

        They ain’t put “China” China plate.”mate in either
        Or “j Arthur” haha j Arthur tank! Or “friar tuck” etc etc

  2. Leila Horsey says

    Never heard sherbert for cab. It means a beer in my neck of the woods (as in I’m going down the rub a dub dub for a sherbert) but no idea why.

  3. Phil Markham says

    Irish Jig is wig! There are several wronguns in the list including Plates of meat being the correct term for feet and Ball o’ Chalk (abbreviated to Ballo) being the correct slang for walk. Muppet!

  4. says

    Ronald Macaulay has an interesting chapter in “The Social Art” (Oxford Press) on the practice of rhyming amongst Scottish children in counting out games. Thank you for this list. Quite interesting, although I doubt that they are exclusively cockney in origin.

  5. Arf says

    Not all the entries are Kosher(meaning real) many are local to an area but not in general use throughout the East End of London.Arf

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