An Introduction to Cockney Rhyming Slang

Is Cockney Rhyming slang dead? Not on your Nelly! Here’s some proof that is in use as never before. (Read some cool brass tacts about Cockney rhyming slang below the list of expressions.)

Cockney rhyming slang phrases are derived from taking an expression which rhymes with a word and then using that expression instead of the word. For example the word “look” rhymes with “butcher’s hook”. In many cases the rhyming word is omitted – so you won’t find too many Londoners having a “butcher’s hook” at this site, but you might find a few having a “butcher’s”.

Cockney rhyming slang was first used by cockneys in the east end of London and now understood widely in London and throughout Britain. It was invented in London in the 1840s by market traders, costermongers (sellers of fruit and vegetables from handcarts) and street hawkers. It was probably first used as a cant – a language designed to disguise what was being said from passers-by.

Rhyming slang often includes humour. Many phrases make sarcastic or ironic references to their subjects. Examples include “Trouble and Strife” (for wife), “Fat Boy Slim”(for gym).

There are a few phrases which don’t follow the typical rhyming pattern, but are simple rhymes in themselves but are still widely understood as cockney rhyming slang. An example is “Giraffe” for laugh – “Are you ‘avin a Giraffe mate?”.

If you feel like more Cockney rhyming slang, here‘s the world’s biggest and most accurate dictionary of Cockney, where we came across these cool facts, I mean, brass tacts…


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