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english pub, rub a dubOfficially, 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.

However, cockney slang is used all over London, extensively in England and around the U.K. and even heard in parts of Ireland.

Cockney 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:

american flagThe American Guide to Cockney Slang union jack


At the Hotel

Apples & Pears - stairs
Dickory Dock - clock
Dog and Bone - telephone
Henry Moore - door
Lion's Lair - chair
Uncle Ned - bed

At The Table

Army and Navy - gravy
Cain and Abel - table
Holy Ghost - toast
Jack the Ripper - kipper
Rosie Lee - tea
Steam Tug - mug

In the Pub

Aristotle - bottle
Elephants Trunk - drunk
Fine and Dandy - brandy
Finger and Thumb - rum
Fishermans Daughter - water
Gold Watch - scotch
Pigs Ear - beer
Plink-Plonk - vin Blanc (wine)
Rub-a-Dub - pub (also see Battlecruiser)
Salmon and Trout - stout
Tiddlywink - drink
Vera Lynn - gin

At the Shopping Centre

April Showers - flowers
Daisy Roots - boots
Dicky Dirt
- shirt
Dinky Doos - shoes
East and West - vest
Irish Jig - wig
Oily Rag - fag (cigarette, also cough and drag)
Sausage and Mash - cash (also Arthur Ashe)
Tit for Tat - hat (titfer)
Tomfoolery - jewelry
Turtle Doves - gloves
Whistle and Flute - suit


Brixton Riot - diet
China Plate - mate ('ello me ol' china!)
Dicky Bird - word (Wouldn't say a Dicky Bird)
Bread and Honey - money
Frog and Toad - road
Joanna - piano (pronounced "pianna")

Linen Draper
- newspaper (readin' the linen he was)
Rabbit and Pork
- walk
Raspberry Tart - fart
Rubic's Cube - the Tube, the London Underground
Septic Tank - Yank, American (also, wooden plank)
Todd Sloane - on your own (on yer Todd)

More about cockey slang around the web:

A Cockney Rhyming Slang Dictionary

Cockney Rhyming Slang

Cockney Online

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