cockney is the term used to describe any person born within the
sound of the Bow Bells - the bells of St. Mary-Le-Bow Church ("Bow
Church") in Cheapside, London.
slang is used all over London, extensively in England
and around the U.K. and even heard in parts of Ireland.
slang's history goes at least as far back as St. Mary Le-Bow,
and maybe longer. It is thought to have originated from sailors
who loitered around London docks.
Others say the Gypsies had something to do with it, or perhaps it was the Irish -- or any other mix of nationalities that made up the gritty London neighborhood. In time, cockney became a secret code, especially among the East London criminal class who talked the talk over the comprehension level of most local constables.
For more complete
background on the more colorful expressions used by today's
Cockney Londoners, you are urged to follow the selected resources for cockney slang further down the page.
These cover most of
the terms available for describing
various sexual peccadillos, or states of
inebriation by degree. For now, check out the PG guide to speaking cockney:
The American Guide to Cockney Slang