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British English Accents – 1. Cockney Accent

What comes into your mind first when you think about a British Accent? Most people would easily think about the accents you hear in ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

Britain really does have lots of different accents. Even inside of London, you’ll find people with a Cockney accent, an Estuary accent, a Neutral accent, and RP (Received Pronunciation) aka they speak with a posh accent. You can actually hear it in the famous film called ‘Kings man’ or the series ‘Game of Thrones’. If you have already watched ‘Kings man’, have you noticed the difference between ‘Eggsy’s’ (played Taron Egerton) and ‘Harry’s’ (Colin Firth) accent? You can hear that Eggsy has Cockney accent and Harry has a posh accent there.

British accent

What’s a cockney accent?

A cockney accent is traditionally spoken by working-class Londoners. In 1980s and 1990s, it had become part of South East English in London and it is also known as Estuary English. Apparently Cockney Rhyming slang was originally made to use like a secret code so that other listeners could not understand. Some of Cockney slang expressions are now in popular use all over Britain, not only in London. Also it is used by a lot of young people, not only working-class people. If you don’t know these slangs, you wouldn’t understand even a single sentence. For example, “let’s have a butchers mate.” Can you guess what it means? This ‘Butchers’ is from ‘Butcher’s hook’, and ‘Butcher’s’ means “Look” in Cockney Rhyming Slang. I will give you some more examples that are quite commonly used especially among young people.

  • China plate = Mate (“Hey, my china!”)
  • Apple and pear = Stairs (Get your arse up the apples!)
  • Adam and eve = Believe (Oh my god, do you adam and eve it?)
  • Barnet-Fair = hair. (Look at my new barnet!)
  • Bird-lime = time. (Oh! sorry I don’t have bird)
  • Britney Spears = Beers (Let’s have britney tonight!)
  • Bees and honey – money (“Can you lend me some bees? I am totally broke.”)
  • Twist and twirl = girl (“I will take the twist out tonight.”)
  • Ones and twos = shoes (“Get your ones on, we are going out now!”)
  • Tea leaf = thief (“Some tea-leaf nicked my wallet!”)
  • Porky pies= lies (“my ex-boyfriend was full of porky pies.”)
  • Storm and strife = wife (“Guys sorry I have to go. The storm is on the way.”)
  • Loaf of bread = head (“Get your loaf out of the clouds!”)
  • Custard and jelly = telly (“Stop watching the custard and do your homework!”
  • Mince pies = eyes (“I don’t think she is lying. Take a look her mince pies.”)
  • Bottle and glass = arse (bottle = Aristotle,  Aristotle = aris = arse) (“Get your bottle up and go out right now”)
  • Boat race = face (“I punched him in the boat.”)

There are come famous celebrities who have a cockney accent. Do you know whom?

David Beckham (Football player)

British accent


Adele (Singer)

British accent


Michael Caine (Actor)

British accent


David Bowie (Singer)

British accent


Maggie Smith (Actress)

British accent


Have you recognized some of these celebrities already? Well, if you would like to hear their sound, have a “Butcher’s” at some of their interviews, then you will notice that they are Cockneys.

Interesting? I will introduce more British accent next time. Until then, enjoy your “Bird” and stay tuned for our next blog post my “china!”

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