Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cockney Rhyming Slang

The following is a list of Cockney Rhyming slang I gathered from Pomegranate Knowledge Cards.

The thing about rhyming slang you must understand is that it "is meant to be impenetrable: it's originators had things to discuss that they wouldn't want the world at large -- or a constable -- to understand. The result is a rude and ribald, poetic and sometimes wildly funny language of which only a few tantalizing scraps have seeped into mainstream English over the past couple of centuries." That's what the box says, anyway.

This type of speech is similar to Don Cheadle's in the movie "Ocean's Eleven".

Adam and Eve: believe
Usage: "Would you Adam and Eve it!"
Note: Always used in full and still very much in use today

Artful dodger: lodger
Usage: "The artful ran off wiv me trouble," meaning "the lodger has eloped with my wife."
Note: Scarcely used today

Barnaby rudge: judge
Usage: "So 'e went up and the Barnaby handed him down twelve months."
Note: In current usage but rarely heard unless one moves in legal circles, usually as a defendant. Only Barnaby is used.

Barnet fair: hair
Usage: "Look at that barnet. It's got to be a syrup!"
Note: Never used in full and almost always used disparagingly. Still used and understood today.

Birdlime: time, as in time that's spent in jail
Usage: "Don't ask, 'e's doing bird."

Boat race: face
Usage: "Get yer boat out of my business!"
Note: Not as widely used as it was in the first half of the past century

Brahms and Liszt: pissed, as in drunk, not irritated
Usage: "Sorry mate, 'e's a bit Brahms and Liszt."
Note: Still in widespread use and always used in full

Bread and honey: money
Usage: "I'm making real good bread."

Butcher's hook: look
Usage: "Lets have a butcher's," meaning "Let me see that."
Note: Used all the time by people unaware they are speaking in rhyming slang. "Hook" is never added.

Dog and bone: telephone
Usage: "Yer trouble's on the dog and bone."
Note: In common usage today, usually in full but sometimes simply reduced to "dog." Cell phones are known as mobiles in Great Britain.

Donkey's ears: years
Usage: "I haven't seen 'er for donkey's."
Note: Many people use the whole phrase.

Gammon and eggs: legs
Usage: "Be fair, she's got a great set of gams."
Note: The first word is always shortened and the phrase is never use in full.

German bands: hands
Usage: "Get yer germans off me bristols!"
Note: Predates the two world wars, when Germany was best known to the Brits as a land of traveling minstrels

Ginger ale: jail
Usage: "Sorry mate, 'e's doin' bird down the ginger."
Note: "He's ginger," however, means "he's gay."

Half-inch: pinch, as in "to steal"
Usage: "Seen 'is new telly? Bet he half-inched it."
Note: Always used in full and still in common use

Loaf of bread: head
Usage: "Use yer loaf!"
Note: So common that most people don't realize that it's rhyming slang

North and south: mouth
Usage: "What a north and south."
Note: Hardly used today

Pen and ink: stink
Usage: "Cor blimey, what a pen and ink!"
Note: Always used in full

Plates of meat: feet
Usage: "Me plates are killing me."
Note: Very widely known and understood, although almost exclusively used for complaining.

Pork pie: lie
Usage: "Who's been telling porkies then?"
Note: In common usage and almost invariably used in the plural

Rabbit and pork: talk
Usage: "She's got more rabbit than Sainsbury's!" (Sainsbury's is a large chain of supermarkets.)
Note: In common use. "Pork" is never mentioned. "Rabbit rabbit rabbit" is a way of telling people who talk too much to shut up.

Rub-a-dub-dub: pub
Usage: "Come on, let's get down to the rub-a-dub"
Note: The last dub is dropped.

Sherman tank: Yank
Usage: "This Sherman give me a monster tip."
Note: To the average Brit, all Americans are Yanks.

Syrup of figs: wig
Usage: "Wot a terrible syrup."
Note: "Irish jig" means the same, but it is never abbreviated to "Irish."

Tea-leaf: Thief
Usage: "Don't take your eyes off 'im -- 'e's a tea-leaf."
Note: In constant use and always used in full

Tit for tat: hat
Usage: "Laugh? 'is titfer blew off and took 'is syrup wiv it."
Note: Always used as titfer, never in full. In WWII, a steel helmet was called a "tin titfer."

Tod Sloan: own
Usage: "You on yer tod?" meaning "You're on your own?"
Note: In common use. Never said in full, only "on one's tod."

Tomfoolery: jewelry
Usage: "They caught 'im wiv the tom and now he's doing eighteen months' bird."
Note: Very much in current use by working criminals.

Trouble and strife: wife
Usage: "Nah mate, I've gorrer get back to the trouble."
Note: Still current

Whistle and flute: suit
Usage: "Nice whistle you got there, squire."


Blogger Lauren said...

Fun! I recognized a lot of those. I think it's because I listen to the Streets (whose first album is "The Artful Dodger," by the way.)

6:37 AM  

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