Rhyming slang: Raspberry, cobblers, and berk

Home/Etymology/Rhyming slang: Raspberry, cobblers, and berk

Rhyming slang: Raspberry, cobblers, and berk

Never fear, unlike certain other authors who have a go at this topic, I won’t be stringing together a bunch of semi-coherent, barely relevant Cockney slang to use as basting around the meat of the post.

But, I suppose, we need an example for context. This is where we run into problems… This blog is meant to be all serious, like. And so much rhyming slang (Australian, and Cockney) is, well, a bit rude.  (Though in my free time, I’m quite a proponent of profanity, a lover of  lalochezia.)

OK, here goes.

No wait, I’ve found one that’s not explicitly rude; it’s just a bit offensive, maybe.

Some people in Australia will use the term ‘seppo’ to refer to Americans. It comes from ‘septic tank’, which rhymes with ‘yank’ (which Wikipedia tells me has ‘mildly perjorative  overtones’—sounds like it belongs in a whiskey menu. St Finnegan’s Hatch: A smooth, full-bodied whiskey. Summer notes—blackberries and thistle—with a hint of peat smoke, and mildly perjorative overtones).

And we’re back…

Rhyming slang is yet another rich source of English vocabulary. In some cases, it evolves into one expression, which is then re-rhymed into a new one. Kind of like a strange linguistic mutation. Sometimes, the original meaning is forgotten, and we’re left with a term that sounds like something your grandmother would say. But deep inside the expression’s meaning lies a kernel of something fantastically uncouth.

Here are 3 of these expressions.

[Mildly naughty] Blow a raspberry. This is rhyming slang for ‘raspberry tart’, rhyming with ‘fart’.

[Moderately inappropriate] A load of old cobblers. A truncation of ‘cobbler’s awls’, which rhymes with, yes, you guessed it, ‘balls’.

[Grandma, no!] Berk. As in, ‘Barry, don’t be a berk.’ Berk is a truncation of ‘Berkshire hunt’. Which rhymes with…
By | 2017-05-19T08:20:54+00:00 March 16th, 2015|Etymology|0 Comments

About the Author:

Writer, editor, musician, plain English evangelist, content ninja for hire, and general web guy, Rory does lots of things, when he has time...

Comment on this post