Teachers' blog





Can you Adam and Eve it?


Anyone who has ever watched a British gangster movie or passed time in East London will have thought that no one was speaking English because it sounded Pete Tong (wrong)!


I am not telling you porkies (lies), either as there is a way of speaking English, but some of it is in code.  It is a clever code because it uses standard English but replaces certain words with rhyming words like Pete Tong to mean ‘wrong’.  So you won’t Adam and Eve it (believe it), but this code is called Cockney rhyming slang.  Cockney rhyming slang started in the 1800s, and it is thought that people invented it to be able to speak in front of the police without being understood.


This coded way of speaking English is still in use, although not by a huge number of people.  Nevertheless, a small number of Cockney slang terms have become standard British English expressions in everyday life. 


If you ever come across this colourful way of speaking English, you don’t need to be confused.  This is because below are some of the most common terms.


Cockney Rhyming Slang Meaning Example
Adam and Eve believe Can you Adam and Eve it?
Bacon and eggs legs You’ve got lovely bacon.
Bread and honey money I’m low on bread.
Butcher’s hook look Take a butcher’s at that!
China plate mate See ya later china!
Cream crackered knackered I’m cream crackered today!
Dog and bone phone You’re always on the dog and bone!
Donkey’s ears years It’s been donkey’s ears since I last seen him.
Loaf of bread head Come on, use your loaf!
Pete Tong wrong Everything’s gone Pete Tong!
Porkie pie lie Stop telling porkies!  I need to know the truth.


If you want to see rhyming cockney slang in action, you could take a butcher’s (look) at British gangster movies or comedies in the comfort of your own home.  I hope you enjoy them!

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