The Brit List: 15 Cockney Rhyming Slang Terms

“I haven’t seen you in donkeys.” (Drew Mackie)

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

“Get your arse up the apples!” (Gunilla Treen)

2. Twist and twirl = girl

“I’m taking the twist out on the town tonight.” (Susan Cohan)

3. Pot and Pan = ol’ man (father or husband)

“Wanna grab some eats, the pot is working late tonight.” (Pantry Spa)

4. Fiddle and flute = suit

“Dropped my fiddle off at the tailor to get taken in.” (Photo via Wiki)

5. Ones and twos = shoes

“Get your ones on, we’re heading to the local!” (Scott Blintz)

6. Tea leaf = thief

7. Porky pies= lies

“He’s full of porky pies.” (Sous Chef)

8. Cabbage patch = scratch

“I got a cabbage on me leg.” (Purdue)

9. Storm and strife = wife

“Beware … the storm is on the way.” (RealStorm87)

10. Loaf of bread = head

“Get your loaf out of the clouds!” (TheKitchn)

11. Custard and jelly = telly

“Take a break from the custard and go outside.” (Desserted Island)

12. Mince pies = eyes

“I can’t believe me mince pies.” (Mince Pie Club)

13. Bottle and glass = arse (bottle = Aristotle,  Aristotle = aris = arse)

“Get your aris up the apples.”(Toasto.com)

14. Boat race = face

“I smacked him in the boat.” (USS Lansing)

15. Plates of meat = feet

“We’re running late, pick up your plates!” (My Mama’s Table)


Can you come up with your own rhyming slang?