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Real English: Cockney Rhyming Slang

Learning English, London
< 2 Minutes

This week in our free online English Plus class, we talked about different accents around the UK and looked at Cockney rhyming slang!

Cockney rhyming slang is a set of expressions which began in the East End of London but is now used and understood across the UK. It was invented around the 1840a and was first used by market sellers to communicate without anyone else knowing what they were talking about.

The most important thing about Cockney rhyming slang is that the expression needs to rhyme with another word. This means it has the same sound. E.g. jack jones = own. ‘I was on my jack jones last night!’

Here a few common examples:

Bees and honeyMoneyI wish I had more bees and honey!
Apples and pearsStairsI fell down the apples and pears!
Dog and bonePhoneMy friend is always on her dog and bone!
Adam and EveBelieveI don’t Adam and Eve it!

Some examples and definitions of common Cockney Rhyming Slang expressions

We challenged our students to write a short story using Cockney rhyming slang and they did a fantastic job! Here are some examples of their work:

“I was washing on the Eiffel Tower (shower) when I heard the dustbin lids (kids) scream! 😨 Running down the apples and pears (stairs), I sadly tripped on the way. My body ached as I felt a few Tom Jones (bones) break! 😱 So I grabbed my dog and bone (phone) and asked my wife to come to the mickey mouse (house) quickly.😥😥😥”

Javier, Venezuela

“I'm going to my mickey mouse (house). And then, I was thinking of my Eiffel Tower (shower). Oh no! The elevator is not working, I'll have to take apples and pears (stairs). However, my runner beans (jeans) are so tight that I can’t move my legs. I Adam and Eve (believe) that it might be hard to do. I mean, if I don’t use the elevator. I have bought some uncle Fred (bread) for dinner and I paid for it with all my sausage and mash (cash). Oh, now the neighbor said the elevator is working again, thank God. So, I need to take a rest, although I will have to reply to the messages on my dog and bone (phone). My loaf of bread (head) is confused, maybe I will have lost it due to I’m tired. Yay, I’m finally on my floor. What a boring night I’m having.”

Thaynara, Brazil

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