An Introduction to Cockney Rhyming Slang

An Introduction to Cockney Rhyming Slang

Hello Teachifyers!

Today we are going to be taking  a look at cockney rhyming slang, a form of slang which initially originated from East London, however has since grown in popularity throughout the UK and even to parts of Australia and the USA!

In cockney rhyming slang, the speaker will replace a word with a phrase that rhymes. So for example instead of saying: he’s up the stairs you would say he’s up the apples and pears. Most of these rhyming phrases contain just two or three words, however it is the final word that must rhyme with the word that you want to replace.

To make things even more difficult, in most cases the phrases are shortened to just the first word which does not rhyme with the targeted word. So for example the phrase I want to take a look at Jim’s new house would be I want to take a butcher’s at Jim’s new house. As you can see butcher’s has replaced look however it does not rhyme. This is because the full phrase would be butcher’s hook which does rhyme with look.

To see a good example of how Cockney Rhyming Slang sounds in practice, here is a great clip from the film Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels which is helpfully subtitled into regular English.

It is widely believed that cockney rhyming slang emerged out of the need for a ‘code’ for criminals in the east end of London so the police wouldn’t understand what they were saying. Many examples  of cockney rhyming slang have found their way into common English in the UK so it is useful to get to know a few of the basics.

Clases de inglés Sevilla


Here are some of the most common examples of Cockney Rhyming Slang

Bees & Honey – Money

Can you lend me £10, I’ve run out of bees and honey.

In regular English: Can you lend me £10, I’ve run out of money.


Dog & Bone – Phone

I’ll call you on the dog & bone later on

In regular English: I’ll call you on the phone later on.


China Plate – Mate

Alright, me old China!

In regular English: Alright mate,  (or Hello, my good friend.)


Trouble & Strife – Wife

Sorry I can’t have another drink, I’ve got the trouble and strife waiting for me at home.

In regular English: Sorry I can’t have another drink, I’ve got the wife waiting for me at home.


Barnet Fair – Hair

I need to get my barnet cut, it’s all over the place!

In regular English: I need to get my hair cut, it’s all over the place!


Hank Marivn – Starvin

I need to get something to eat, I’m proper hank at the moment.

In regular English: I need to get something to eat, I’m really hungry at the moment.


Jack Jones-  Own

I’m on my Jack Jones so I’m feeling a bit bored.

In Regular English: I’m on my own so I’m feeling a bit bored.


North & South – Mouth

Shut your north!

Shut your mouth! (or shut up!)


Pete Tong – Wrong

It’s all gone Pete Tong.

In regular English: It’s all gone wrong.


Rub-a-dub – Pub

Fancy a pint down the rub-a-dub.

In regular English: Do you want a beer at the pub?


Scooby Doo – Clue

I haven’t got a scooby where you are.

In regular English: I don’t know where you are.

Jack’s Music Box – Tears Dry On Their Own

Jack's Music Box - Tears Dry On Their Own

Mejor Academia De Inglés Sevilla!

Hey guys!

Welcome back for another edition of Jack’s music box. For this week’s song I have chosen Tears Dry on Their Own by Amy Winehouse from her second and final album Back To Black.

Although Winehouse tragically died in 2011 at the age of 27, her music remains as influential and popular as ever. In many ways Amy Winehouse opened the doors for many female artists such as Adele and Lady Gaga.

Born in London in 1983, Amy started playing guitar and writing songs when she was just 14 years old.

By 2000 she had developed her vocal talent and was the featured singer for the National Youth Jazz orchestra, however It didn’t take long for record labels to take notice of her talent and there was soon fierce competition over the young singer.

Eventually Winehouse signed with Island and released her debut album Frank in 2003 to both commercial and critical success.

After her jazzy first album, Winehouse changed to a more soul influenced sound as she joined forces with producer Mark Ronson. Together Winehouse and Ronson would go on to create Back to Black, what many consider to be Amy Winehouse’s greatest work.


I have selected Tears Dry on Their Own for this week’s Music Box because I think it is a great song and a good one to challenge your English ability.  The song is about a woman who is hung up on a past relationship with a man.

Some of you may notice a similarity between this song and Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell’s Motown hit Aint No Mountain High Enough from 1967, that is because the two songs actually contain the same chord progression.

Take A Look at the Song Below:

Interesting Phrases and Vocabulary


Regret: A feeling of sadness

Height: A peak, a high point

Snatch: To take something with force

Owe: an obligation to give somebody something

Shade: darkness caused by an obstruction to sunlight

Tears: Liquid which comes from ones eye when they are crying

So Many Bigger Things at Hand: So many bigger things to focus on

Perspective: A point of view

Clases Particulares Sevilla

Reserva Tu Clase De Inglés Hoy!

For those who would like to learn more about Amy Winehouse or would like a further challenge. I would also highly recommend the 2015 documentary film Amy which goes into her fascinating yet tumultuous career.

If you enjoyed this week’s Music Box, check out our Amy Winehouse Spotify Playlist here: