Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cockney rhyming slang

The other day I heard the phrase “Have a butcher’s at this”, which is, of course, Cockney rhyming slang. I tried to think of other examples that I actually use, and only came up with “Use your loaf”. So, in the spirit of research, and for my readers’ edification, I had a butcher’s at this site, and took note of the ones I use, or at least have heard used. Most of them I had no idea they were Cockney rhyming slang!

In case you don’t know what it is, Cockney rhyming slang works like this: you take the word you want to say (e.g. “head”), take a pair of words or phrase that rhymes with it (e.g. “loaf of bread”) and then use the first bit of that phrase instead of the original word.

Quite a few examples have trickled down over time from Cockney to British English to the "colonies" (e.g. New Zealand), although as far as I know not the US.

Anyway, here’s the list I made:
You do rabbit on, don’t you = rabbit and pork = talk
Have a butcher’s at this = butcher’s hook = look
Use your loaf = loaf of bread = head
I haven’t got a sausage = sausage and mash = cash
He’s a right berk = Berkshire Hunt = (you can figure that one out yourself)
My knee is giving me gyp = gypsy Nell = hell
Stop telling porkies = pork pies = lies
Got any bread? = bread and honey = money
Are you taking the mickey? = Mickey Bliss = piss*
They’re having a barney = barn owl = row (fight)
Let’s have some plonk = plink plonk = vin blanc = wine
What’s it like living with the Sepos?** = septic tank = Yank
It’s been donkeys = donkey’s ears = years

Can you think of any others that you use?


* The Sepos loved this one. You can take it a step further: Are you extracting the Michael?
** I hadn’t heard this one until a friend in Perth used it.