Anyone for a pig’s ear? London cockney rhyming slang this International Beer Day

Let’s go down to the rub-a-dub for a cow’s half

Every year, on the first Friday of August, many adults come together to celebrate the refreshing drink that is beer.

And while the beloved beverage has refreshed people across the globe throughout history, some could argue that a pint of beer at a local pub is one of the most quintessentially British things one can do.

To celebrate, language learning app Babbel has put together a list of booze-related slang from across the UK.

In London, there are numerous Cockney rhyming slang phrases that are all about beer. Here is a look at some of those traditional phrases that you can use for this year’s International Beer Day.


London Cockney rhyming slang about beer

For something to be an acceptable rhyming slang, it needs to actually rhyme with the original word. That’s why “pig’s ear” and “King Lear” are two of the most popular words for beer.

When ordering half a pint of beer, you can use the phrase “cow’s half” and, once it gets you pissed, aka drunk, you can refer to the state you’re in as “Brahms and Liszt” or “elephant’s trunk”. Continue reading

Who was Evelyn Dove?

Evelyn Dove, the mixed-race singer, actress and all-round ground-breaker

Evelyn Dove was born in London in 1902 to Sierra Leonean barrister Francis Dove, and his white English wife Augusta.

Dove studied piano, singing and elocution at the Royal Academy of Music from 1917 until her graduation in 1919.

As a woman of colour, despite her extensive training, she found if difficult to break into the classical music scene.

She started off using the name ‘Norma Winchester’ when she joined the Southern Syncopated Orchestra (SSO), which was a band composed of British West Indian and West African and American musicians who were bringing black music into the mainstream on the UK club scene.

She was with the SSO on board the SS Rowan when their ship accidentally crashed into another. The result was a tragedy in which 35 people died, including eight or nine of her band members – it seems the exact number is lost to history.

Even through that adversity, Evelyn persisted.

Soon enough, she had her own show, called Evelyn Dove and Her Plantation Creoles – a name that admittedly hasn’t aged very well – and was touring internationally.

Her reputation as a singer continued to rise through the 20’s, but she found her greatest success throughout the 30’s and 40’s.

In 1939, she made history as the first black singer to ever feature on BBC Radio.

When she left the BBC in 1949, she went on to work around the world in India, Paris and Spain.

Sadly though, she ended up struggling to find jobs. In 1956, she was cast as Eartha Kitt’s mother in a drama called Mrs Patterson, and continued to take roles on television and the West End stage where she could.

She died of pneumonia in Horton Hospital, Surrey, at the age of 85.

However, even though she’s gone, her legacy as an artist and history-maker remains.

The Evening News of India once referred to her as, ‘an artist of international reputation, one of the leading personalities of Europe’s entertainment world.

‘She is described as the closest rival of the great Josephine Baker herself. Evelyn didn’t get just the big hand. She got an ovation’.

‘Colder than a witch’s tit’ and other British phrases set to die out

A new poll has revealed a list of traditional British sayings which may become extinct despite the UK having one of the most rich and diverse languages in the world.

By Bill McLoughlin
A new poll has revealed a list of traditional British sayings which may become extinct despite the UK having one of the most rich and diverse languages in the world.

According to a study, there are 50 phrases that are in jeopardy of being lost from the English language.

Of those 2,000 people asked, 78 percent have never used the phrase “pearls before swine”.

A further 71 percent said they had never used “colder than a witch’s tit” or “nail your colours to the mast”.

In the poll, conducted by Perspectus Global, 70 percent do not wave goodbye with a “pip pip”.

A further 68 percent of Brits said they had never heard of or used the phrase “know your onions”.

Ellie Glason from Perspectus Global, said: “It’s interesting to see from our research, how language evolves and changes over the years.

“It would seem that, many of the phrases which were once commonplace in Britain, are seldom used nowadays.”

While a series of phrases may now become extinct, four out of five Brits believe the UK has the most descriptive language in the world.

The survey was based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults, aged between 18 and 50.

British sayings such as “colder than a witch’s tit” and “a dog’s dinner” at risk of dying out.


1.       Pearls before swine 78% (never use the phrase)

2.       Nail your colours to the mast 71%

3.       Colder than a witch’s tit 71%

4.       Pip pip 70%

5.       Know your onions 68%

6.       A nod is as good as a wink 66%

7.       A stitch in time saves nine 64%

8.       Ready for the knackers yard 62%

9.       I’ve dropped a clanger 60%

10.   A fly in the ointment 59%

11.   Keen as mustard 58%

12.   A flash in the pan 57%

13.   Tickety boo 57%

14.   A load of codswallop 56%

15.   A curtain twitcher 56%

16.   Knickers in a twist 56%

17.   Dead as a doornail 55%

18.   A dog’s dinner 55%

19.   It’s chock a block 55%

20.   Storm in a teacup 55%

21.   Could not organise a p*** up in a brewery 54%

22.   Not enough room to swing a cat 54%

23.   Flogging a dead horse 54%

24.   Toe the line 54%

25.   Popped her clogs 54%

26.   Drop them a line 53%

27.   Steal my thunder 53%

28.   A few sandwiches short of a picnic 53%

29.   A legend in one’s own lifetime 52%

30.   Be there or be square 52%

31.   Fell off the back of a lorry 52%

32.   A bodge job 52%

33.   Eat humble pie 52%

34.   Having a chinwag 52%

35.   Put a sock in it 52%

36.   Mad as a Hatter 51%

37.   Spend a penny 51%

38.   Cool as a cucumber 51%

39.   It’s gone pear shaped 51%

40.   It cost a bomb 51%

41.   Raining cats and dogs 51%

42.   See a man about a dog 51%

43.   It takes the biscuit 50%

44.   He’s a good egg 50%

45.   Snug as a bug in a rug 49%

46.   Chuffed to bits 49%

47.   Have a gander 49%

48.   Selling like hot cakes 49%

49.   Pardon my French 48%

50.   A Turn up for the books 45%

Source: ‘Colder than a witch’s tit’ and other British phrases set to die out

Call for celebs to save Cockney rhyming slang ‘which could be gone in 20 years’

There are fears Cockney rhyming slang will die out ‘within 20 years’ if no action is taken

When Andy Green was born in London’s East End in the 1950s, Cockney rhyming slang was still in its heyday.

But the 62-year-old, self-described ‘minor celebrity from a micro niche’, says Cockney will die out within 20 years unless we act to preserve its relevance – which is why he started ‘Speak Cockney Day’.

Andy is passionate that our sense of identity, including where we are from, helps to define who we are, and wants to promote the importance of nurturing the Cockney dialect to maintain its relevance.

This is why he hopes to get East-Endcelebrity figures such as Adele, Russell BrandMichael Caine, Danny Dyer and Madness’ lead singer Suggs on board with promoting its continued use.

The proud East-ender, who grew up in Balfron Tower social housing in Poplar, Tower Hamlets, and has written two books about London, has set out a seven-step manifesto to save his beloved East End lingo.

As well as getting London celebs on board, the manifesto includes promoting Cockney’s cultural inclusivity, maintaining its relevance to young people, and getting London’s museums and institutions to take part.

The construction of rhyming slang involves replacing a common word with a phrase of two or more words, the last of which rhymes with the original word; for example, ‘apples and pears’ for ‘stairs’, or ‘bees and honey’ for ‘money’.

It is thought villains invented the dialect so the police wouldn’t understand them.

In almost all cases they would omit the second word of the phrase, so the rhyming word would be implied to listeners in the know, while eluding those who weren’t.

Source: Call for celebs to save Cockney rhyming slang ‘which could be gone in 20 years’