You may have heard of Cockney rhyming slang but do you know what a cockney is?
A real cockney is in fact someone who was born within earshot of the “bow bells” (Mary Le Bow Church) in London and originated in the mid-19th century in the East End of the city. These days cockney is often used to describe someone who comes from London and has a certain strong accent.
People have a hard enough time understanding British people when they speak. How do you know if you’re talking to a cockney though?
This is a good question but the bottom line is, you’ll know! The cockney dialect and accent is characterized by fast almost unfathomable speech. It is associated with the working class and comes with it’s own unique mannerisms and body language. A cockney has a reputation to keep always confidant and considered to be “salt of the earth“.
Then comes the cockney rhyming slang…
Just when you think you are starting to understand what a cockney is saying to you they start with the cockney rhyming slang. This is a curious, colloquial way of constructing phrases in a conversation by replacing the word they want to say with 2 or 3 words that rhyme with that word but then just using the first word. Confused?
Don’t worry we got your back and are gonna break it down for you. Once you read the examples we have given in this top 10 cockney rhyming slang list you will understand what it’s all about, so read on…
1: “Apples & Pears” – Stairs
Probably the best known cockney expression of all originating in the 1850’s it plainly means “stairs”. Not very exciting we know nevertheless a great started for ten.
Alternatives: Troubles & cares, Stocks & shares
Example sentence: “I’m just going down the apples & pears to get a cup of tea from the kitchen”
2: “Trouble & Strife” – Wife
A cheeky little expression characteristic of this genre using a double meaning making it humorous but hopefully not too offensive.
Alternatives: Bread knife, Bag for life
Example Sentence: “Just popping to the shops with the trouble to get some food”
3: “Dog & Bone” – Phone
Another very common expression in cockney London most people know this one and use it jokingly, almost fondly.
Alternatives: Joey Ramone, Jelly bone
Example Sentence: “one sec mate, my dog’s ringing just gonna take this call”
4: “Adam & Eve” – Believe
Ok so bear with me on this one, it’s sheer genius but takes some getting used to. The first 3 examples were all nouns whereas this is something different as it means “believe” (read the example sentence below and you’ll get it)
Alternative: Christmas eve
Example Sentence: “It’s the middle of winter and the sun came out today, can you Adam & Eve it?!”
5: “Barnet fair” – Hair
A small place located in the North of London and famous for it’s annual horse and pleasure fair held in September, a tradition dating back to 1758.
Alternatives: Tony Blair, Yogi Bear
Example Sentence: “Need to go down the hairdressers and get my Barnet sorted out for the wedding”
6: “Jack Jones” – Alone
A curious expression widely used by Londoners across the board usually when complaining about being left on their lonesome by their mates or family.
Alternatives: Todd Sloan, Pat Malone
Example Sentence: “I’ve been sat her for hours, the lads went to get some drinks and I’m on me Jack Jones!”
7: “Skin & Blister” – Sister
Another “fond” family term of endearment similar to wife above, rhyming slang can be a little gruesome or raw like this one.
Alternative: Sock & Blister
Example Sentence: “Alright lads, my skin’s havin a party tonight, you’re all invited”
8: “Bubble bath” – Laugh
Used with the British colloquial usage of the word laugh this is a great example of classic cockney rhyming slang.
Alternative: Hat & Scarf, Cow’s Calf
Example Sentence: “We’re going down the pub tonight for Johns birthday, we’re gonna have a right bubble” (a good time)
9: “Butcher’s hook” – A look
Another classic example of authentic old fashioned cockney rhyming slang used in plenty by the people of London. In this case only the first word ever.
Alternative: Captain Cook
Example Sentence: “Oy Jane give us a butcher’s at your new watch it looks amazing”
10: “Chew the fat” – (have a) Chat
We thought this was a good one to finish off with today. It is a classic and still very widely used when talking about having a chat with someone.
Alternatives: Top hat, Frank & Pat
Example Sentence: “Let’s meet up tomorrow Dave and chew the fat about the football”