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The Oxford Dictionary of Rhyming Slang Hardcover – 30 Sep 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (30 Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192801228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192801227
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 3 x 13.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 820,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Amazon Review

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

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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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Have you have ever heard Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses saying things like "Currant Bun", and wondered what he means? He is using a language called rhyming slang, where rhyming other words makes the intended word.
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.
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I bought this in order to try and make contact, on some sort of plane, with a somewhat cantankerous / aggressive / mean-spirited close relation of mine. He was dragged up in the East End about a hundred and fifty years ago but has since reinvented himself as a bit of an establishment figure. Hence the fact that these working class roots have been airbrushed from history. That is, until he over-imbibes on lager. And then that old, inscrutable patter just comes tumbling out. Well, the last time it happened, I was ready for him.

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.
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Although the lack of an index for the words you want to 'translate' into rhyming slang (as opposed to the other way round) was a bit of a disappointment, this book lives up to all other expectations, and made an ideal Christmas gift for a Yorkshireman who's fascinated by London. Infact it kept him quiet the whole festive period! The inclusion of some Australian rhyming slang references would be useful to some students of the genre, but isn't too scholarly for the casual browser.
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Format: Paperback
If you enjoy using cockney rhyming slang you will like this
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Can't say more than that I'm very happy with it and I'm sure my son's American wife will find it educational and amusing.
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purchased as a present for someone who like to write poems/limericks and uses this a lot
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Not very good half the words I'd never heard of
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