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What is The Cockney Rhyming Slang?

Cockney is a word associated with true Londoners. True cockneys are deemed born in a very small radius surrounding St. Mary-le-Bow church of the Eastern London. The general view is that anyone born to the toll of Mary-le-Bow church bells is regarded to be a cockney.
St Mary-le-Bow Church, Cheapside, LondonSt Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, London

Rhyming slang is slang for a word that rhymes with it. Cockneys are very prone to using the rhyming slang, and hence the term, cockney rhyming slang. Cockney speech and accent that took birth in central London, though currently heard all across South-East England, is tightly associated with rhyming slang. Any word that rhymes with another becomes the slang expression of the latter.

For instance, the word ‘Plates of meat’ rhymes with the word ‘feet’. So, ‘Plates of meat’ is a cockney rhyming slang for ‘feet’, but many cockneys avoid the rhyming word, and use just the associated word. So, ‘plates’ itself means ‘feet’.

Other examples:

Butcher’s hook—Look

Scotch eggs—Legs

Loaf of bread—Head

Boat race—Face

Iron hoof—Poof (homosexual)

Bees and honey—Money

Daisy roots—Boots

Dickey dirt—Shirt

Dog and bone—Telephone

Mince pies—Eyes

North and south—Mouth

Elephant’s trunk—Drunk

See, some of the cockney rhyming slang expressions are very hilarious.

Most of these expressions originated in the cockney area, which is the East end of London, known popularly as The East End. But these expressions have traveled across the UK and is widely popular everywhere. General belief is that the cockney rhyming slang may have formed as a means to confuse the foreigners. Wikipedia speculates that the criminals may have used the rhyming slang as a cipher in presence of police.

The Cockney rhyming slang is in widespread use today, and any thought that they are dead is false, so says Cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk. For instance: “Use your loaf” is a popular expression in UK, and most people do not realize that ‘loaf’ stands for ‘loaf of bread’, which means ‘head’.

In Cockney Rhyming Slang UK site, you have the chance to contribute your own slang expressions as well. In the following posts, on Popular idioms and usages series in this blog, you will find so many instances of cockney rhyming slang.

Here is the main posts from Popular Idioms and Usages (some of them contain popular Cockney Rhyming slang expressions).

List of Popular Idioms and Usages Part A

Popular Idioms and Usages Part B

List of Popular Idioms and Usages Part C

Popular Idioms and Usages Part E

Popular Idioms and Usages Part I

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

Comments

  1. Hi,
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  2. Well thanks for this wonderful to learn more slangs I want to recommend a good collection of Slang Dictionaries presents you with a vast array of slang words and expressions, ranging from older and internationally recognized slangs to modern day coinages, colloquialisms, vulgarities and many other substandard usages of the English language.

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  3. Thanks for the comment. I will check it out.

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