Parents sometimes complain that they can’t understand the slang that their teenager’s use. Slang is often a secret and hidden language; only the people who know its code can understand its message.

Cockney Rhyming Slang is no different. It was a special form of slang spoken by Cockneys in the East of London in Victorian times. The word Cockney refers to a Londoner born in a very specific part of the city, near the church of St Mary le Bow in the East End. This rhyming slang was first invented in the 1840s.

It is like a code in which words are replaced by other words that rhyme with them. For example ‘bacon and eggs’ means ‘legs’ and ‘bread and honey’ means money. To make the code even more difficult to break, they used to drop the second part of the phrase (the word that rhymed).

So, “I haven’t got any bread” actually means “I haven’t got any money!” If someone told you “Stop rabbiting on!” you wouldn’t understand unless you knew that rabbit and pork meant talk in Cockney rhyming slang.

Now, it’s not such a secret language and it’s not only Londoners who use it. There are lots of new inventions because, like the rest of the English language, things change all the time!

Why don’t you try to invent your own rhyming slang?


Here a few activities to help you!

Answer keys