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It’s not 100 percent known how cockney rhyming slang — the replacement of a common word with a rhyming phrase — came about, but it’s typically thought that the tricky word play was a type of code amongst groups of people in 19th century London who wanted to speak to each other without others being able to understand (for instance, street merchants who were haggling with customers). The “tricky” part is, in almost all cases, the omission of the secondary rhyming word, making the origin and meaning of the phrase unknown.
For example, the word “years” can be replaced with the rhyming phrase “donkey ears,” but to throw people off the scent, only the non-rhyming word is used. Thus, “years” becomes “donkeys.” Sometimes the word doesn’t even technically rhyme but it’s a made up language, baffling even Londoners, so there really aren’t any exact rules.
Can you crack the code?
1. Apples and pears = stairs
2. Twist and twirl = girl
3. Pot and Pan = ol’ man (father or husband)
4. Fiddle and flute = suit
5. Ones and twos = shoes
6. Tea leaf = thief
7. Porky pies= lies
8. Cabbage patch = scratch
9. Storm and strife = wife
10. Loaf of bread = head
11. Custard and jelly = telly
12. Mince pies = eyes
13. Bottle and glass = arse (bottle = Aristotle, Aristotle = aris = arse)
14. Boat race = face
15. Plates of meat = feet
Can you come up with your own rhyming slang?