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Quiz: Cockney Rhyming Slang

I love a good quiz - but of course it has to be about things I know, so no good if it's sport or celebs. I still do pub quizzes with friends

Rainy Day in London--Outside the Law Court, The Strand

Rainy Day in London--Outside the Law Court, The Strand

Here Is an Explanation to Help You Understand What Rhyming Slang Is

The History:

A Cockney is generally defined as someone who was born within the sound of Bow Bells,St Mary-le-Bow church being in East London, which, until recently, was an English working-class district.

Cockney rhyming slang developed in the Nineteenth Century as a secret way for people to communicate with each other, and was thus used mainly by people who had something to hide, such as thieves and smugglers. To some extent it is dying out, because the phrases used are no longer secret. However, people still like the idea of rhyming phrases, and new ones have recently developed, such as "Barack Obamas", meaning "pyjamas".

How it Works:

Basically, you take a pair of associated words (e.g. "Barnet Fair"), where the second word is to rhyme with the word you actually mean(e.g. "hair"), but then instead of using the word "Fair", you use the first word of the associated pair to indicate the word you originally intended to say. So, if a Cockney says "she's got a red Barnet" then in your mind's eye you think Barnet = Barnet Fair = Hair, so it means "she's got red hair".

Similarly, if the said Cockney says "She's had a lot of work done on her boat":

Boat is associated with "boat race", so the rhyme you need to find is: What rhymes with the second word "race"? And, of course, the word that rhymes is "face".

Thus you arrive at the meaning: "She's had a lot of work done on her face".

Some More Cockney Expressions:

Would you Adam and Eve It?

The second word "Eve" rhymes with the word "believe", so the meaning is "Would you believe it?"

Confusingly, you can see from this that sometimes you don't use a shortened form of the phrase, i.e. a Cockney would not say "would you Adam it" , but would only use the whole phrase "would you Adam and Eve it".

Common expressions are "he's a tea leaf" meaning "he's a thief". And if you say someone is telling "porkies", think "porky pies" and you then get the meaning that he's "telling lies."

Simple, isn't it (I don't think!)?

He's Brahms And Liszt--Pissed


Here's My London Cockney Quiz--Let's See How You Do!

How's your knowledge of English, as spoken by the local Londoners......well, not all Londoners, just the Cockneys?

Let's Test Your Knowledge and Understanding of Cockney in This Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What does "He's up the apples" mean?
    • Short for up the apples and pears - meaning he's upstairs
    • Short for up the apple tree - meaning he's at sea
  2. What does "He's wearing a syrup" mean?
    • Short for syrup tart - rhymes with heart, so means he's wearing his heart on his sleeve
    • Short for syrup of figs - rhymes with wig,so means he's wearing a wig
  3. What's does "he's in a right two and eight" mean?
    • He's very late
    • He's in a right state
  4. What does "I like your titfer" mean?
    • Short for tit-for-tat - rhymes with hat - means I like your hat
    • Short for tit-for-tat - rhymes with cat - means I like your cat
  5. What does "he's a tea leaf" mean?
    • He's had problems and come to grief
    • He's a thief

Answer Key

  1. Short for up the apples and pears - meaning he's upstairs
  2. Short for syrup of figs - rhymes with wig,so means he's wearing a wig
  3. He's in a right state
  4. Short for tit-for-tat - rhymes with hat - means I like your hat
  5. He's a thief
Scroll to Continue

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: Oh dear, I fear you've never been to London

If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: Must try harder

If you got 4 correct answers: Not bad, not bad at all

If you got 5 correct answers: Top of the class! Were you born within the sound of the Bow Bells?

Here is a Book About Language and Rhyming Slang

  • Ten English Proverbs About Birds
    Learn a few English Proverbs and Sayings, wth some humorous examples of how the phrases should be used. If English is your home language, see how many phrases you recognize and use yourself. There is also a poll, and video
  • The English Tongue Twister
    English tongue twisters will help students of English as a Second Language to improve their speech. It will also help people who do public speaking, such as actors,barristers,and corporate public speakers. Learning to say tongue twisters is enjoyable
  • Fruit in English Proverbs and Sayings
    Plenty of pretty pictures, and more to remind you of what you already know, or what you still need to learn, depending on your experience as an English speaker or student of English

Cockney Rhyming Slang on YouTube

You'll get the idea a bit more after hearing these

How do You Feel About Cockney Rhyming Slang?

Did You Learn Something New? Would You Like to Add Your Comment, Good, Bad or Indifferent? Please Do--I Love to Hear From People

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on January 04, 2017:

I was just reminded of another one today - did you know that slang for Scots is "sweaties" - think "sweaty socks". A bit unflattering, but, there you are, I didn't make it up myself, just pointing it out.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on November 24, 2016:

I spent 20 years in the UK, so I scored 100%, although some of those I hadn't heard. I still use many of phrases, especially with my kids. Now that I am in Brazil on a farm, I'm usually cream crackered.

I think it's important to keep nuances in languages going. Thanks for the history of it and giving me some new phrases to use.

Olivia on September 28, 2015:

Got one right by guessing.....oh my!

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on July 15, 2014:

@anonymous: Makes you think, doesn't it?

anonymous on July 15, 2014:

I did a lot of guessing and somehow got six right. Very interesting to see how different people use language.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on June 16, 2014:

@Colin323: Good on yer, mate!

Colin323 on June 15, 2014:

10 out of 10! Who's a clever boy, then! Mind you, I lived in east London for 30 years.

Lynn Klobuchar on March 13, 2014:

I learned quite a bit. Thanks for the primer.

Tanya Jones from Texas USA on March 07, 2014:

I'm fascinated with cockney slang.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on June 22, 2013:

@Ahdilarum: perhaps that's because you're posh

Ahdilarum on June 21, 2013:

Scored only 4/10

IrisHoppenbrouw on June 21, 2013:

Fun idea. Did very badly on the quiz, but enjoyed the lens even more. :)

Peter Badham from England on September 14, 2012:

awight luv?, cheers me old china, that was blinding! Some goldies in there.

Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on September 09, 2012:

I've seen Cockney rhyming slang before and it always tickles me that this is common Australian everyday speech :-)

Char Milbrett from Minnesota on June 27, 2012:

Well. I scored 1 of 10. "I say, Tally ho, chop chop... " [that's modified slang for my score[tally] is not very high [chop, chop] ... i think i'm learning. [smile]- until i hear different, of course...

pinkrenegade lm on June 17, 2012:

I learned new slangs.

anonymous on June 21, 2011:

Very informative read, thanks for putting up this lens.


Penrith Carpet

dryder on March 02, 2011:

This was hard but fun!

tssfacts on December 18, 2010:

Great fun didn't do as well as I thought I should have.

pumpnut lm on December 16, 2010:

This was a hard one. Got a bit of help from Cary Grant.

bt55 on December 06, 2010:

7 out of 10, 1 I got wrong I should have remembered, the other two I had to guess. My Mother used a couple of the sayings and we got a good serving of British television back home in New Zealand, so wasn't too hard.

mivvy on November 22, 2010:

Lovely quiz, I had 80%, geat fun and I learnt a lot

Carol Fisher from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK on November 03, 2010:

A really good light-hearted quiz, very enjoyable. I got them all right but I've lived in London and written about cockneys so it would be embarrassing to get any wrong.

RinchenChodron on October 17, 2010:

I only got 10% - pretty bad but I'm American - give me a break! At least I tried it.

fReEdOmLiFe on October 08, 2010:

This is a great lens. Thanks for making it. Very informative. I gave you a thumbs up.

I like your lens.Thanks for the recommendations.


Kitchen microwave review

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on September 21, 2010:

@RhondaAlbom: Yes, but maybe you're too posh - this is the language of blue collar workers and wheelers and dealers - a sort of code so that the other side won't understand what they are saying!

Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on September 21, 2010:

Fun Quiz. I would have thought New Zealand English was more similar. I only got 50%.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on September 19, 2010:

@BuckHawkcenter: Thanks so much for Angel Blessing and being featured on Angelography - I shall now have a look.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on September 19, 2010:

@oneskms: Well done - I'm an Essex girl and I certainly would have difficulty with understanding a Northern accent, except my son-in-law is a Scouser, and that has been an eye-opener, when he has a bit of fun with us and talks Scouse slang.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on September 19, 2010:

The mind boggles! What did you find out?

oneskms on September 19, 2010:

I'm a northerner and still scored 100% (mind my old mans an essex boy ! - lol)

BuckHawkcenter on September 18, 2010:

This was so much fun! After I took the quiz I discovered why I got so many wrong. I got a great chuckle from this and I love to chuckle. Angel Blessed* and featured on Angelography!

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on September 12, 2010:

@makingamark: ...and thumbs up too! Are you sure you didn't have a butcher's first?

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on September 12, 2010:

@ChaosAndCritters: What about this one, for the time: Chinese dentist - toof hirty (two thirty)

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on September 12, 2010:

@Virginia Allain: Yes, guessing is part of the fun. My partner is really up on Cockney slang, and some of the things he says are quite mystifying for a moment, as I run through the alternatives in my mind - I'm sure he makes some of them up just to fool me!

Katherine Tyrrell from London on September 10, 2010:

I scored 100% and am not a cockney but have lived in London for 30+ years. Interesting to see how may I used routinely! Nice lens - thimbs up.

ChaosAndCritters on September 08, 2010:

My father in law is a bloody Cockney... asked me once to ask my husband about his "Hampstead". Took me freaking forever to figure out HOW that had anything to do with TEETH! (Hampstead Heath)

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on September 03, 2010:

that was fun, though my answers were just guesses on the quiz.

PositiveChristi1 on March 24, 2010:

I scored 100%, but I am a Londoner with Cockney grandparents so I was brought up with this stuff.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on January 10, 2010:

This was not a Pommie aberration - a tealeaf is indeed a thief, and a titfer a hat - I must have just hit the wrong button when I was drafting the quiz, and I have now put it right, thanks to your puzzled observations!

Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on January 07, 2010:

This is almost Australian! (Although I went through too fast and hit the wrong button on #8,. I know perfectly well what a porkie is- we even had a Prime Minister nicknamed Hawke and the expression changed to telling Hawkies here).

Curiously, there are a couple of differences. A tea-leaf is a thief where I live and a titfer is something you wear on your head. I suppose it's not so very surprising that rhyming slang is deeply rooted in this former penal colony even if a couple of expressions have changed over time.:)

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