Cockney, English and Irish Slang

A note on the bizarre old British currency system, 1960s characters, some cockney slang and Catholic jargon. Click on Larry Olivier below to go to the page for my coming-of-age story Hamlet and Me.

A pound note (or quid) was twenty shillings.

A shilling, or bob, was worth twelve pennies and the sixpence coin was called a tanner.

A half-crown was a large silver coin worth an eighth of a pound.

A two-bob coin was called a florin by the upper classes.

A guinea is worth one pound and one shilling. There’s no coin or note at that value, but it was used in professional fees.

 

Characters:

 

Laurence Olivier — actor who played a vast range of roles in theatre and film through the last half of the 20th century.

sid

Sid James – very popular TV and film comedian – was a major character in the Carry On series of films.

 otoole-as-hamlet

Peter O’Toole – actor who played the title role in Lawrence of Arabia; recently retired.

johnnyg

John Gielgud actor who played a vast range of roles in theatre and film through the middle of the 20th century. Had a voice like silk.

 derek

Derek Jacobi — another, younger theatrical knight who plays many Shakespearean roles.

 

 

Cockney, English and Irish Slang

 

 

A note on the bizarre old British currency system, 1960s characters, some cockney slang and Catholic jargon.

 

A pound note (or quid) was twenty shillings also known as twenty bob.

A shilling, or bob, was worth twelve pennies and the sixpence coin was called a tanner.

A half-crown was a large silver coin worth an eighth of a pound.

A two-bob coin was called a florin by the upper classes.

A guinea is worth one pound and one shilling. There’s no coin or note at that value, but it was used in professional fees.

 

 

Slang:

 

Aeriated — angry.

A quiet word — could mean a chat, a warning or a beating: ‘I want a quiet word’ is menacing.

All dolled up — in your best clothes.

Any road — Liverpool for anyway.

Barney  — (R) Barney Rubble = trouble

Bee’s knees — excellent.

Berk — as in a right berk — an idiot.

Bint — girl (possibly available).

Bizzies — de bizzies — Liverpool for police.

Bleeder — fellah.

Blimey/Blow me — mild exclamation.

Bog, bogs — toilet.

Bogie — policeman (see bluebottle, copper, the filth, de bizzies etc)

Bottle someone — hit with a bottle.

Bookie — someone who took street bets on the ponies (races); illegal in 1963.

Bugger off — go away (not nice). However: ‘He buggered off’ = he left, neutral.

Bristols —  Bristol City = tittie (breasts)

Bunk off — play hooky — miss school.

Butcher’s, have a, dekko, shufti — look, from butcher’s hook = look.

Cacked themselves — here it means laughed uproariously.

Cack-handed at — bad at something.

Chipper: feeling chipper — happy, full of energy.

Chippy — fish and chip shop; carpenter.

Choked — displeased or disappointed.

Chuffed pleased; the opposite of choked.

Clobber — clothes.

Clock someone — put his lights out — punch him.

Cockles — tiny clams in a shell. Take-away food (see Winkles).

Cocoa/Co-co: I should cocoa — give me a break. Rhyming slang from ‘I should say so’ in an ironic tone.

Collywobbles, to have/get — become fearful.

Cop as in ‘It’s not much cop’ — no good.

Cop a good one/ cop a good feel — foreplay.

Cop it — get killed.

Coppers, bluebottles, bogies and rozzers — police. There are other, less cuddly names too!

Cor! often cor blimey — expression of surprise or appreciation.

Coronation Street — incredibly long-running British soap opera.

Cost a bomb — expensive.

Cotton on — realize/understand.

Crackling: a nice bit of crackling — either a nicely-built girl or the crispy skin of a pork roast(!).

Daft — silly.

Dead — very, as in dead clever.

Dekko, a — butcher’s, shufti — a look.

Dog’s breakfast, a — a mess.

Demobbed — see Mobbed out.

Dropped off his trolly — gone crazy.

Duff — no good.

Duff up — beat up

Dunno — short for ‘don’t know’.

Dutchman, I’m a  — as in,  if x is true, then I’m a Dutchman = x is untrue.

Fag — ciggie; cigarette; see Ginger

Fair do’s — the schoolboy equivalent of societal give and take.

Flush — having money.

Flutter, have a — bet

For yonks/ages/donkey’s years — for a long time.

Gadding about — messing about — doing silly (or illegal) things.

Gander, have a — have a look

Gawd (love us etc) — informal expletive meaning ‘God’.

Gee-gees — ponies, horses (as in racing).

Get a rise out of someone — make him annoyed (for a joke)

Get up someone’s nose — annoy someone.

Ginger or ginger beer — queer or gay.

Give over — you’re kidding. Also means stop what you are doing.

Given a hiding/ duffed up/ done over — to be beaten up.

Gordon Bennett! — same as blimey! An exclamation or expostulation.

Goolies — privates

Green Badge — see Knowledge.

Have a dekko/ butcher’s/shufti — have a look.

Have a go at someone — admonish or hit.

Het up — angry.

His Nibbs — the boss, unflattering.

How’s your father, to do some — sex.

Hump, to have the — to be annoyed or in a bad mood.

Humungous — huge

In a tiz — a bit annoyed (often used as an understatement).

An ‘in’, as I have an in with the Old Vic — a useful connection.

Jammie — lucky, as in Jammie bleeder — lucky fellah.

A johnny — a condom.

Knackered — lit: castrated; idiomatically, dead tired.

Knowledge, The — incredibly difficult exam that London cabbies take to get a Green Badge that allows them to drive a cab.

Kray twins — South London gangsters who loved their mum.

Larry the Lamb — Jolly character from a radio series.

Lay — caper/crime.

Leave it out — I don’t believe you, give me a break.

Leery of — nervous about, afraid of.

Little blue twists of salt — you salted your own crisps (potato chips) in 1963. The salt came in a twist of blue paper. It was very lucky to get two in your packet — dunno why.

Lolly — money.

Lug something around — carry something heavy or unwanted.

Lug hole — ear.

Manky — yukky, unpleasant

Mobbed out — demobbed. Let out of the Army.

My Aunt Fanny — comes after an assertion and casts doubt on it. A: I’m a famous author. B: Famous author, my Aunt Fanny!

Nag — horse, sometimes perjorative.

Nick — verb: to steal; noun: police station/prison.

Nobbled — poisoned or given go-slow juice (race horses)

Nosh — food.

Off his trolley, gone — nuts, crazy.

Oik — an ignorant or uncouth person, very different from oneself.

On yer tod — alone.

Palaver — fuss

Parky — cold, as in parky weather.

Pillock — an idiot.

Poncy — effeminate (a ponce was also a pimp).

A pony = twenty-five pounds.

Pickled egg — exactly that: scrumptious. Sold from huge jars on pub counters.

Plimsolls — rubber shoes/trainers

Porkie pie — lie.

Poufy — queer, gay, effeminate.

Pukkah — Indian Army term meaning high class/ in good order

Pwor — expresses sexual interest – pwor, look at those [insert body part].

Raspberry — nasty sound made by vibrating the lips — sign of disapproval.

Rasher — slice of bacon.

Salty — rude.

Sarnies — sandwiches.

Scarper — run.

Screw it! — Forget it.

Scumbag — nasty person.

See a man about a dog, have to — go for a pee.

Sexton Blake — fake, used as a verb or noun.

Septic tank — yank.

Shirty — rude.

A shufti, a butchers, a dekko — a look.

Shut it — be quiet.

Skive (off) — avoid work.

Slag someone off — be rude about someone, usually behind their back.

Sod — person, sometimes perjorative.

Spring for — pay for.

Steptoe and Son — Sanford and Son in the US. TV series about rag-and-bone men (dealers in used items/junk).

Stone — unit of measurement for people’s weight = 14 pounds.

Suss (out) — understand, discover, check out something.

Ta — thank you.

Ta-ra — Liverpool for bye.

Tea leaf — thief

Teddy boy — 1950s-early 60s fashion for young men to have long side-burns and wear knee-length jackets, drain-pipe trousers and winkle-picker (pointed) shoes.

The other half — another drink.

Then — at the end of an expression softens the tone as ‘Alright, then’; otherwise means ‘in that case’.

Toddle-off , bugger off — saunter away.

Ton, as in do the ton — 100 mph.

Tooled-up — carrying firearms

Touched — (by God) mad/crazy.

Top-hole — excellent in posh.

Turn-up (for the books) — a surprise

Twat — idiot.

Wake — a vigil held over a corpse before the funeral/a party in commemoration of a dead person (Irish).

What’s up, then? — Hi.

Whole hog, go the — do something completely, without restraints.

Wind someone up — make someone angry.

Wind-up — a trick or attempt to anger someone.

Wigging — a telling off, a reprimand.

Wonky — not set right, as in my front wheels are a bit wonky. A wonky smile is a lopsided one.

Wotcha — Hi, as ‘Wotcha, Mikey’.

 

Catholic jargon:

Canon — senior priest

Mortal sin — you’re going to hell

Venal sin — a little one, you need to confess.

Incense thurible — a brazier on chains used to make clouds of incense.

<p style=”text-align: center;”>[maxbutton id=”2″ text=”Excerpt” url=”http://www.mikehoganbooks.co.uk/hamlet-and-me-page”]</p>

One thought on “Cockney, English and Irish Slang

  1. Paul Lambert

    The other half could also mean ones wife/husband. My parents used to refer to the west end of London as ‘up the other end ‘ .also getting ‘shirty’ meant getting annoyed. Porkie pie was often shortened ie ‘are you telling porkies’ .another term for very cold war ‘taters’ ie it’s taters out there! ‘A word in your shell -like ‘ was having a quiet or private word with someone. Money was referred to as ‘ackers’. Gawd love – a duck’ was a term expressing surprise. Another saying of my mum’s was ‘I must look like ‘the wreck of the exprus ‘ I’m not sure of the spelling of the final word but it meant to ‘look disheveled ‘.I think it was the name of a ship that run aground or sunk.. The ‘two Bob bits ‘ was diarrhea. An old six penny piece was called a ‘tanner’ . A draft was called a George Raft. Someone without any common sense might be referred to as ‘not knowing their arse from their elbow ‘ ! Going to the flicks(cinema) .Taking the Mickey was to make fun of someone.. ‘going for a Jimmy'(Riddle) was going for a pee. You cows son was a term of abuse with it often sounding like it was one word. ‘My giddy aunt ‘ was a term of exclamation or frustration. ‘Boat(race)…face. Let’s go back to your drum(house) . ‘ Well I’ll go to the foot of ex stairs – a term of surprise

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *