Why I adore rhyming slang

There’s a lot I’m rather fond of in our sunburnt country, and rhyming slang is one of them.

Growing up with baby boomer parents, both of whom possess a strong affinity for the English language, was not without consequence. I have warm memories of my dad proclaiming, ‘It was time to hit the frog and toad (road)’, after yet another stop on our annual mid-year road trip from Melbourne to steak and kidney (Sydney). Many years later, Dad’s favourite salutation in a text message is ‘G’day my old China plate’ (mate).

Australian rhyming slang is thought to have originated from the Cockney habit of using words that rhyme to refer to something considered vulgar and therefore inappropriate to directly mention in public.

However, over the past couple centuries, Australians have put their own twist on this merry method of communication to the point where we can definitely claim it as our own. Aside from the three examples of rhyming slang already mentioned, here are my other cherished examples – long may this marvellous way of speaking continue!

Dog and bone (phone)
Bread and jam (tram)
Jam tart (heart)
Captain Cook (look)
Pat Malone (alone)
Jack and Jill (bill)
Barry Crocker (shocker)
Harold Holt (to bolt)
Porky pie (lie)
Dead horse (tomato sauce)

Do you use rhyming slang? What are your favourite Australian expressions or idioms?

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Written by Lucy


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