Cockney Rhyming Slang: A List of Examples and What They Mean

Blog
May 10, 2022
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Mathieu Chassara

Unsplash: Taylor Floyd Mews

Let’s be honest, having a cup of Rosy Lee (Rosie Lee) any time of day is a great way to make you feel refreshed and recharged. But what does having a cup of Rosy actually mean?

Having a cup of Rosy simply means having a cup of tea, which could be any tea like Earl Grey, Jasmine, Green Tea, or any other type of tea you want. This expression is one of the most popular Cockney rhyming slang used all over Britain.

Now, here’s the tea (zoomer slang) – this British rhyming slang was first recorded in Edward Fraser and John Gibbons’s Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases in 1925. However, some people think that the term is coined after the American burlesque artist named Gypsy Rose Lee. This information is debatable though because the expression has been around before her working life. Despite the controversy of its history, a cup of rosy is a beloved Cockney rhyme that many Brits use when talking about a cuppa.

Anyone from London, particularly those from the East End, is referred to as Cockney. According to one theory, to be a true Cockney you must be born within hearing distance of the Bow Bells of St. Mary Le Bow Church in Cheapside, London. Luckily, many hospitals in the East End are located within that perimeter. But because of traffic noise, the sound of the Bow Bells can only be heard some miles away.

Cockney is both an accent and a regional dialect in the United Kingdom, and it’s best known for its Cockney rhyming slang. Cockney rhyming slang is a type of British slang that dates back to the 19th century, but many of these expressions started appearing during and after WWII. There are several theories on why Cockney slang was developed. One theory is that criminals needed a secret code to talk without being detected by authorities, therefore rhyming slang was invented. Another theory is that those market traders devised this code to communicate without their customers being able to understand what they're saying

Cockney rhyming slang is interesting. Yet, these expressions can be confusing and hard to understand because many phrases don’t make sense at all. Important tip: just remember that the meaning of the expression rhymes with the actual phrase it’s referring to, just like the expression a cup of Rosy (Rosie Lee) = tea. Hear how Rosy or Rosie Lee rhymes with tea?

Bees and honey

Meaning – money

Sentence – Do you have some bees with you?

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy


Raspberry tart

Meaning – fart

Sentence – Can you smell a raspberry tart?

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy / VH1


Rabbit and pork

Meaning – talk

Sentence – They are rabbiting about the bachelor that just moved into town.

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy / BBC


Lump of ice

Meaning – advice

Sentence – Mary Berry needs a lump of ice from Queenie.

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy / ABC Network


On the floor

Meaning – poor

Sentence – Sigh, I’m just going to play my guitar and sing about why I’m on the floor.

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy


Daisies (daisy roots)

Meaning – boots

Sentence – These daisies are made for walking!

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy


Dog and bone

Meaning – phone

Sentence – I need to phone James Bond, would you mind if I grab my dog and bone quickly?

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy / James Bond 007


Mince Pies (mincers or mince)

Meaning – eyes

Sentence – I’m telling you, you’d be swooning as soon as Chiwetel looks at you with those mince pies.

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy


One’s and Two’s

Meaning – shoes

Sentence – Tracey is happily dancing wearing her new one’s and two’s.

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy


Sherbet Dab

Meaning – cab

Sentence – I need to take a Sherbet Dab.

Cartoon characters welcoming the new year by playing music

Giphy / Great Big Story


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