All About Cockneys & The 150 Top Cockney Rhyming Slang Phrases

Almost everyone knows what a Cockney is or at least they think they do.   Famously they are the original Londoners known for their cheeky banter, no nonsense approach to life and perhaps being a bit rough.   Actually a lot rough.  The amount of London gangster films has given to a film genre in itself, all populated by brutish cockneys with a sometimes unexpected moral code.

Having put up with centuries of deprivation, exploitation, Great Fires, serial killers and Luftwaffe bombings then it is little wonder that Cockneys have a certain reputation.  These days the worst estates in London have been known to fight off alien invasions and even zombies.

zombie-gallery-cockney-vs-zom

But what actually constitutes a Cockney.  London is actually a huge city, officially around 600 square miles or 1,000 square kilometers and that doesn’t include all the outying districts that strictly speaking aren’t London but in reality pretty much are.

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Historically speaking to be a Cockney you have to have been born within earshot of a single specific church, St Mary-Le-Bow or Bow Bells for short.   In times past, the bells could be heard over quite a distance (around 10 miles across) as can be seen on the map below.  However in the 21st century, the area in which the bells are audible is very much reduced due largely to the noise of cars, aeroplanes and building heating and cooling systems.

p4_bow-bells

However, despite the area where one is technically able to be born a Cockney has reduced, in reality, the area that Cockneys live has never been wider.  Due to populations being relocated after The Blitz to more outlying locations and even different counties such as Essex, the Cockney dialect has taken hold over a good chunk of London though of course true Cockneys would dispute the newcomers status.

Aside from the Hugh Grant, upper class Notting Hill type, according to Hollywood, everyone else in the whole of Britain speaks Cockney.  All 65 million of us…. even the ones 900 miles from London.     In reality, if a Hollywood producer was spoken to in the famous Cockney Rhyming Slang it is likely that they wouldn’t understand a single word of it.  That’s ok, even other British people might only know a few of the most famous ones.

There is a reason for this of course and that is that it is likely that they were created almost as a secret code to allow for covert and often dodgy conversations to take place right in front of the police, visitors or customers.  Whilst many people might know that Rosie Lee is Tea or Apples and Pears means stairs, the idea of it is that with many of them, only the first word is spoken.  This is even the case with modern iterations.  Few would say that they want a Britney Spears or beers, they’d just ask for a Britney.

Below is a fine selection of Cockney Rhyming Slang to help you learn to speak propa like.   Some from the wonderful Londontopia site and others were rattling around my loaf (see number 65).   There are many more to go with these but I did have to edit out dozens of rude or possibly offensive ones.

  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 of 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. Plates of 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 Jig – 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
  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)
  101. All gone Pete Tong  – Wrong
  102. Lester Piggot – Bigot
  103. Cream Crackered – Knackered
  104. Dustbin lids – Kids
  105. Rocking Horse – Sauce
  106. Jockey Whips – Chips
  107. Bubble and Squeak – Greek
  108. Soccy Doo – Clue
  109. Skin and blisters – Sister
  110. Rock and Roll – Dole
  111. Nelson Mandella – Stella
  112. Godiva – Fiver or £5
  113. Score = £20
  114. Pony – £25
  115. Tonne = £100
  116. Monkey = £500
  117. Grand = £1000
  118. Richard III = Turd
  119. Haystack – Back
  120. Eye Lash – Slash
  121. Birds Nest – Chest
  122. Khyber Pass – Arse
  123. Lord Lovel – Shovel
  124. Baden Powell – Towel
  125. Daisy Roots – Boots
  126. Bristol City – Breasts
  127. Swiss Navy – Gravy
  128. Ian Beales – Wheels
  129. Nigel Benn – 10
  130. Chicken Dippers or Yorkshires (Rippers) – Slippers
  131. Aristotle – Arse
  132. Brad Pitt – Guess 🙂  Just one of many for that word
  133. Mae West – Vest
  134. Turtle Gloves – Doves
  135. Roll and butter – Nutter
  136. Tit for tat – Hat
  137. Kettle and hob – Fob (watch)
  138. Icecream Freezer – Geezer
  139. Tin Bath – Laugh
  140. Drum Roll – Hole (Basic place to live)
  141. Edna Everage – Beverage
  142. Rabbit and Pork – Talk
  143. Oily Rag – Fag (Cigarette for Americans!!)
  144. Borassic Lint – Skint
  145. Potato Mould – Cold
  146. Britney Spears – Beers
  147. Gregory Peck – Cheque
  148. Hamstead Heath – Teeth
  149. Artdul Dodger – Lodger
  150. Lemonade – Spade

Of course if you want a genuine London tour to see the tourist parts, the posh parts or you want a proper old knees up in authentic London then let me know at www.yeoldenglandtours.co.uk

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in Cool Britannia, Life, London, Popular Culture, Travel, Ye Olde England Tours and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to All About Cockneys & The 150 Top Cockney Rhyming Slang Phrases

  1. Mel & Suan says:

    LOL. We recall watching “Mind your language” as kids and listenting to this Sidney babbling away in Cockney dialect that poor old mr Brown had to explain to the foreign students!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kwadwobeng says:

    Great show. Absolutely loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mlbradford says:

    Thanks for this great Post!
    When I saw it I thot I’d ‘ave a butcher’s! A big thank u for th extensive list
    I hope u enjoyed watching this:
    https://bradscribe.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-bradscribe-review/
    Personally, I reckon its superior to Th Force Awakens
    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pete says:

    Reblogged this on Pete's Favourite Things and commented:
    I was born and spent my first 8 years in the East end of London inside the eastern edge of Stephen’s green zone. I remember some of the terms listed being used and I certainly remember the weekly visit to the Pie and Mash shop – always with Liquor (not alcohol but a white parsley sauce).

    Liked by 1 person

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