My name is Jeremy Alderton and I run the Cockney Rhyming Slang
dictionary page. If you have any comments or would like to submit
slang that's not on the list, please use the Submit Slang link at the top or
bottom of this page.
What makes this list of slang different from the many others that are
available on the internet is the examples of usage that are included for each
word (and in some cases the origin) - not much point in knowing that iron
means bank if you can't work it into a sentence, now is there? You can
search for words in the "English to Slang" dictionary table and use
the "Money Slang" link for specific terms for relating to bread and
honey. These files are quite large but all the words are presented
on just one page so you don't need to click around to find the information you
want. Please be patient while the tables load.
There are some expressions that seem to defy understanding.
Have a look at the "Questions" page for readers questions and many
answers submitted by people far wiser than I.
This list had rather humble beginnings but the many visitors to this site
soon corrected that - wherever possible, their names have been included in the
If you're new to Rhyming Slang, take a minute
to browse What
is Cockney Rhyming Slang? below.
What is Cockney Rhyming Slang?
'Allo me old china - wot say we pop round the
Jack. I'll stand you a pig and you can rabbit on about your teapots. We can 'ave
some loop and tommy and be off before the dickory hits twelve.
or, to translate
Hello my old mate (china plate) - what do you say we pop around to the
bar (Jack Tar). I'll buy you a beer (pig's ear) and you can talk (rabbit and
pork) about your kids (teapot lids). We can have some soup (loop de loop) and
supper (Tommy Tucker) and be gone before the clock (hickory dickory dock)
The origins of Cockney Rhyming Slang are uncertain.
It's not really a language since the words spoken are clearly English; on the
other hand, it's not a dialect either, since the speakers of this slang are
also perfectly capable of not using it! Some stories go that this slang
originated in the market place so that the vendors could communicate without
the customers knowing what was being said - you wouldn't want your customers
knowing that you were going to lower your prices in ten minutes so you could
go home early. Other stories have it that it originated in the prisons so that
inmates could talk without the guards listening in. I recently heard from Bob
King that "it was born shortly after Sir Robert Peel introduced and
implemented his idea for a Police force. The criminal fraternity had never
been faced with such a concerted effort to thwart them, so they developed
Cockney Slang, the idea of which being that, two or more criminals could hold
open conversation, within earshot of a "Peeler," without fear that
their plans were being overheard by the police." And Jackie
says that many of the rhymes were invented by the petty thieves to rob people
in the markets, allowing the thieves to talk amongst themselves without anyone
knowing what they were talking about
It doesn't really matter where it comes from - the
important thing is that it exists today just as it has for many, many years
and can provide a wonderful, colourful language in everyday life.
It is very difficult to describe what Rhyming Slang
is without using an example, but I'll give it a try. Basically, you take a
pair of associated words (e.g. fish hook), where the second word rhymes with
the word you intend to say, then use the first word of the associated pair to
indicate the word you originally intended to say. Usually. And some slang
words have more than one meaning (for example, iron can be a bank (Iron Tank)
or a homosexual (Iron Hoof - this rhymes with poof which is a particularly
English expression for homosexuals), so context is everything! There - clear
Let's use an example: From the example listed above,
you are talking about a book. The rhyme is "fish hook", so the slang
expression is fish, as in "I'd like to say a word about the new fish by
Len Deighton" except, of course, a real Cockney would more likely say
"I've got a dickie about Deighton's new fish"; dickie is from dickie
bird (i.e. word). Doesn't really clear things up at all, does it? Imagine a
conversation like this:
"Got to my mickey, found me way up the apples, put on me whistle
and the bloody dog went. It was me trouble telling me to fetch the
which really means,
"Got to my house (mickey mouse), found my way up the stairs (apples
and pears), put on my suit (whistle and flute) when the phone (dog and bone)
rang. It was my wife (trouble and strife) telling me to get the kids (teapot
Now you've got an idea about what is possible, why
not try your hand at it!