The Oxford Dictionary of Rhyming Slang Hardcover – 30 Sep 2002
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Any "twist and twirl" or "heap of coke" who assumes that rhyming slang is an obscure and exclusive Cockney province can think again. You would hardly "Adam and Eve" some of the more recent coinages in The Oxford Dictionary of Rhyming Slang coming as they do from all walks of life and all over the world.
The first reference to rhyming slang was in John Camden Hotten's The Slang Dictionary (1859) and it probably originated as an underworld code before developing into a form of word play that people found fun. They still do. Alongside the old favourites such as "dicky dirt" for shirt and "whistle and flute" for suit are plenty of Tony Blairs (flairs) Claire Rayners (trainers) Britney Spears (beers) and Steffi Graf (laugh). Language is in a continuous state of change and Ayto gives us some delightful obsolete expressions such as "apple pips" for lips or "bowl the hoop" for soup alongside some tasty current ones such as Duchess of York (pork) and Schindler's List (pissed).
Ayto gets really entertaining though when he when he gets into the euphemistic territory of body parts and functions. If you call someone a "berk" or "burk" and think that's quite mild just remember it derives from a rhyme with Berkley or Berkshire hunt. Whores have variously been called "boat and oar", "bolt the door" (graphically reduced to "old bolts"), "Doug McClure", "Roger Moore", "sloop of war" and "two by four". And ask yourself what "raspberry ripple" and "Christmas crackers" might rhyme with.
For word lovers the thematic sections of The Oxford Dictionary of Rhyming Slang is an enlightening browse with lots of historical titbits. --Susan Elkin
Review from previous edition An exemplary piece of editing . . . Ayto's book is the best and most entertaining so far (The Spectator)
Covers virtually every aspect of the human condition (Evening Standard) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Whether you're a complete beginner, or a real life Del Boy that wants to know where the rhymes originated from, this book is for you. The book is split into 27 categories like illness, animals, sport, and then into the appropriate sub-sections to make it even easier to find the rhyme you want. When you find the word you want to say as a rhyme, you can also find out when it was first said, and any other ways of saying it. There is also a handy index of the rhymes, so you can find out what a specific rhyme means, if you have heard it from something like Only Fools and Horses.
The reason I first bought this book was to improve my small knowledge of rhyming slang, but now I have read the book, it has made me think how cleverly made this unique language is. Many of the rhymes are highly amusing, so it's a perfect gift for someone, or get it for yourself and impress your mates by speaking another language in English.
He doesn't like me very much anyway, so I could probably have guessed the general meaning of 'You're a right cocky little feather plucker you are' without the help of this book. Then again, I wouldn't have been able to play him at his own game and hurl back a personalised mention of Anthony Blunt. I did have to hit the frog and toad fairly sharpish after that though, because my flicking through this book did manage to send him just a teeny weeny bit Radio Rental. NOT the idea really.
This book is a record of social and geographic history. This is a 'language' that is constantly evolving, the rhymes themselves changing with the times or the historical circumstances. As you may have gathered from the examples I have already quoted, it is a comprehensive work, full of the sort of colourful language you would hear in any pub in town on a Friday night. And that's just from the ladies. The author also manages to inject a great deal of humour into the book, making it a very enjoyable read on its own, without necessarily being used for reference. I would have liked a different layout for the index however. The book is arranged into some fairly confusing chapters ( 'Sense and Nonsense', 'Household Matters, etc. etc.Read more ›
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