You Speak Cockney Slang – But You Don’t Even Know It

Top ten rhyming slang you probably
use but didn’t even know it

Boracic Boracic Lint Skint
Daffy Daffadown Dilly Silly
Porkies Porkie Pies Lies
Loaf Loaf of Bread Head
Plonk Plinkety Plonk
vin Blanc (Wine)
Todd Todd Sloane Alone
Aris Aristotle Arse
Donkey’s Ears Donkey’s Ears Years
Syrup Syrup of Figs Wig
Bristols Bristol Cities Titties

“Can I have some new shoes, Mum?” “No, we’re Boracic”.

“But I haven’t had a new pair for Donkey’s Ears”. “Use your Loaf son, there’s no money”.

“Mum, you’re telling Porkies!” “Stop whining or I’ll smack your Aris”.

A fairly familiar dialogue between any British family. They’re not Cockneys, they could come from anywhere in Britain, certainly anywhere in England. Yet they’re using Cockney Rhyming Slang and they didn’t even know it. These are the crafty little slangs that are too good to be confined to east end of London, so they go viral round the country. Maybe YOU speak Cockney Rhyming Slang and you don’t even realise!

Have you ever used phrases like these …

“Stop telling Porkies!” Well, that’s Porkie Pies, meaning Lies, don’t you know?

Or “Use your Loaf”. That’s Loaf of Bread meaning head. Everybody says it but how many people really know that it’s rhyming slang?

Recently the Museum of London conducted a survey which showed that recognition of rhyming slang was dying out. For example only 53% of respondents knew that Brown Bread means Dead. But how many of us are using rhyming slang without being aware of it? The survey didn’t ask that question – perhaps they weren’t themselves aware of all the subconscious slang that crops up in conversation.

Maybe you’ve heard people say “That girl’s a bit Daffy”. That means she’s Daffadown Dilly. Meaning silly.

Perhaps you know someone’s who’s done “Bird”. They’ve spent time in prison, so they’ve really being doing Bird Lime.

Do you drink “Plonk”? It’s slang that originated in the First World War, when Aussie soldiers rhymed “vin Blanc” with “Plinkety Plonk”. Eventually “plonk” came to mean any cheap wine.

There are many examples of rhyming slang that have lost their exclusive Cockney dimension, and have escaped from London to live in the English imagination. What’s more rhyming slang is no longer really under the custodianship of Londoners. Other parts of the country, now that they’re aware of the fun you can have with rhyming slang, want to have a go. So we get phrases like “It’s all gone Pete Tong” – rhyming slang for wrong. But not just for the Cockneys.

See if you can find any more examples in the dictionary. But don’t get too trainspotterish about it. Or you might end up on your Todd. That’s Todd Sloane I’m talking about.

4 responses to “You Speak Cockney Slang – But You Don’t Even Know It”

  1. miki says:

    guy’s, the cockney for wrong, is "it’s gone pete tong, not yes, please get it right, ok , so what does the cockney slang kettle mean, and why ???????

  2. Boycie says:

    Kettle means watch. It comes from Kettle and Hob, neaning fob and by extension fob watch.

    Boycie from stepney at your service…….

  3. Tellboy says:

    A couple of new replacements on this page. Titties should be Thrupnys (or Frupnys). As in Threepenny Bits. Arse is Bottle from Bottle and Glass.

  4. Lanky says:

    Another convoluted bit of slang was – arse, vase, bottle, Aristotle, Aris.