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HomeLondon LanguageCockney SlangTen More Great Cockney Phrases and their Meanings

Ten More Great Cockney Phrases and their Meanings

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Cockney rhyming slang is a major part of East London culture and a language that adds to the character of the East End.  We recently covered ten great Cockney phrases we thought you should know but of course, with any subculture language, those ten are not the end of these great rhymes.  We have found another ten Cockney rhyming slang words and phrases that we thought you should know as well as explaining how they originated.  If there are any more phrases that we left out that you love, let us know in the comments.

North and South

If you’re ever told to shut your north and south, that’s because it rhymes with mouth.  This phrase can have more positive uses, but a fair amount of the time it’s used on people who are talking too much, bragging, or getting way ahead of themselves.

Tom Cruise

Cockneys aren’t talking about the movie star when they refer to a Tom Cruise, but are actually referring to a bruise.  Given the real Tom Cruise’s penchant for doing his own stunts and seriously injuring himself in the process (such as when he broke his leg filming Mission Impossible: Fallout), his name not only rhymes well with bruise but is quite appropriate.

Barney Rubble

Fans of the Oceans movie trilogy might recognize this phrase as used by Mockney Don Cheadle’s character Basher Tarr.  Far from referring to Fred Flintstone’s co-worker and best buddy, Barney Rubble is a rhyme for “trouble.”  Normally, Cockneys will leave off the surname and just say something like “Well, that looks like Barney.”

King Dick

King Dick is not as bad of an insult as Americans might think, but it’s still certainly an insult.  King Dick is a rhyme for another British insult: “thick.”  Thick normally means someone who isn’t very smart or is particularly dense.  If you’re being called a King Dick, it means someone thinks you’re dumb.

Mickey Mouse

Oh, boy!  Naturally, no Cockney is actually referring to Disney’s most famous character when they say “Mickey Mouse” or shorten it to “Mickey.”  In Cockney rhyming slang, this means “house”, though “Taking the Mickey” in English slang is similar to “taking the piss”, which means to mock someone or something.

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve can have two different meanings in Cockney rhyming slang, neither of which are Biblical.  The first and most common is “believe” as in “I can’t Adam and Eve it.”  The other meaning is “leave,” which can be either just going or having to beat a hasty departure.  The first originated as far back as the late 19th Century, while the second came about around the 1930s.

April Showers

If you remember the old phrase “April showers bring May flowers,” you’re not far off from the meaning of this Cockney phrase.  April showers is a shorthand way of saying flowers and sometimes you can shorten it to say “I got my girl some Aprils for Valentine’s Day.”

Dog and Bone

Our final Cockney rhyming slang phrase is a simple rhyme that means “telephone.”

Half-inch

This phrase came about in the 1920s and is a rhyme for “pinch.”  Of course, this doesn’t mean a pinch like most of us would think, but pinch is itself a slang term for meaning “steal.”  As an example, you might hear someone say “Oy, my wallet’s been half-inched!”

Didgeridoo

Nothing to do with the Australian musical instrument, “didgeridoo” in this case is simple rhyming slang for “clue” as in “I haven’t got a didgeridoo where your keys got off to.”  This doesn’t really have a discernable origin and appears to be another rhyme that came about because it sounded similar.

John Rabon
Author: John Rabon

John is a regular writer for Anglotopia and its sister websites. He is currently engaged in finding a way to move books slightly to the left without the embarrassment of being walked in on by Eddie Izzard. For any comments, questions, or complaints, please contact the Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's haircut.

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