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English School in London | Bloomsbury International

Cockney Rhyming Slang (Meanings and Examples)

Hi everyone!  I hope you had a good long Easter weekend last week! Bloomsbury International was closed for a couple of days but if you are one of our students, I hope you made the most of the long weekend and took a trip somewhere or visited new places in London. And of course I hope you practised your English speaking too!

It’s a shame about the awful weather we’re having though. Can you believe it snowed yesterday? In APRIL?! I’ve checked a few weather forecasts and you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s going to improve from next week (it won’t be warm but hopefully it won’t go into minus numbers again!)

'Kick me' prank on April Fools' DayLast Monday was April Fools’ Day in the UK. On 1st April every year, people play jokes and tricks on each other, even newspapers and TV shows sometimes report strange stories to trick the public. For example, in 1957, the BBC managed to convince thousands of viewers that scientists had discovered spaghetti trees in Switzerland!!

Do you have any similar days in your country? Did anyone prank you this year on April Fools’ Day? My friend woke me up in the morning and said, “Sara, I’m so so sorry but I dropped your phone and the screen smashed!” I’d just woken up and I didn’t realise what day it was so I was soooo ‘mum and dad’! Until he started laughing hysterically saying, “Got you, got you!” Needless to say, I didn’t find it very funny!

You may have noticed that I used a strange phrase above – mum and dad. This is cockney rhyming slang – can you guess what it means? It actually means ‘mad’ (I was really mad (angry) with my friend when I thought he’d broken my phone). Cockney rhyming slang originated in the East End of London in the 1800’s and it is still used today! Many people say that it was invented by people who wanted to speak in front of the police without being understood!

Cockney rhyming slang is a coded language that uses an expression which rhymes with a word instead of using the actual word. For example, ‘Barnet Fair’ means ‘hair’. The expression is often shortened to just one word so it can be really difficult to understand unless you memorise them (for example, you may hear someone say, “Do you like my Barnet? I just got it cut”).

Here are some examples of common rhyming slang:

Cockney rhyming slang Meaning Example
Adam and Eve believe I don’t Adam and Eve it!
Apples and pears stairs Can you help me down the apples and pears?
Bacon and eggs legs You’ve got lovely bacons.
Bread and honey money When’s pay day? I’ve run out of bread.
Butcher’s hook look Take a butcher’s at that!
China plate mate (friend) See ya later china!
Cream crackered knackered (really tired) I’m cream crackered today!
Dog and bone phone You’re always on the dog and bone!
Hank Marvin starving I’m hank marvin!
Jam jar car I need to get my jam jar fixed.
Loaf of bread head Come on, use your loaf!
Pete Tong wrong Everything’s gone Pete Tong!
Pork pie (or porkie pie) lie Stop telling porkies! I need the truth this time.
Whistle and flute Suit Are you wearing a new whistle?

Are you going to classes in an English language school at the moment? If so, why not try and impress your English teacher by using some cockney rhyming slang in your next class!

Don’t forget to also check our idiom of the week page for more expressions, including fun comics to help you understand the meanings!

Have fun with English

Below are some sentences with cockney rhyming slag expressions. Do you know what they mean?

He hasn’t said a dicky bird in hours.

I haven’t seen him in donkeys!

I need to go down the frog and toad to pick up my jack and jills.

That crossword was lemon squeezy.

The currant bun’s hot today!

Last week’s answers

English slang quiz

  1. I’m just going to the loo – I’m just going to the toilet (b).
  2. I’m sorry but I don’t get it – I’m sorry but I don’t understand (a).
  3. The play was a hit – The play was a great success (b).
  4. This table is really wonky – This table is really shaky (c).
  5. The crossword puzzle was a doddle The crossword puzzle was really easy (a).

Have a good week everyone!!

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