by Terry Victor
This is a bit of an experiment. Not the sort of thing a respectable lexicographer would do. Ooops.
Rhyming slang is a gloriously anarchic vocabulary which, when it’s based on celebrated names, does offer an extra kind of immortality. Ruby Murray, for instance, is nowadays more likely to be thought of as a curry than remembered as a singer who was big in the 1950s. Shall we go for a Ruby? I like my Ruby hot.
In 2001, Popney Rhyming Slang became a recognised thing. It was a useful excuse for some newspapers to fill columns that they could illustrate with a celebrity pic or two.
Popney emerged on the Internet – or the ‘E-Anglosphere’ as we put it in 2017 when it came to compiling the academically serious Dictionary of English Rhyming Slangs.
Imagine our po-faced glee.
At source Popney Rhyming Slang was no more than tomfoolery, just folk having fun with the language. But some of the slang came in useful and impacted on our vocabularies. Items like Britney Spears or Britneys, for ‘beers’, Tina Turner for an ‘earner’, and Hank Marvin for ‘starving’, soon found a home.
Two decades on from the dawn of Popney, I have been having a bit of a search around for some new stuff. Nothing has jumped out at me. Not a sausage. So, almost without realising, like a journalist desperate to fill a wordcount – or a lexicographer without a dictionary to compile – I started to create a fresh list of potential celebrity-based rhyming slang. It amused me. And why not? You can see the results below.
Don’t get excited. These words are really nothing more than insubstantial tomfoolery until other people start using them. Actually, more than that. Until other people can be seen to be using them. However, should any word capture the imagination and creep into usage, future lexicographers trying to nail down the earliest recorded usage may like to note that this is where it started.
I’ve called it Fauxney Rhyming Slang. Pronounced ‘phoney rhyming slang’. Where it is not immediately obvious I have given brief details of derivation. Except for Billie Eilish (forgive me, I was enjoying myself). Please feel free to drop a word or two into your conversations, actual, virtual and digital. I’ve given examples of possible use but if you want to hijack these slang terms, knock yourself out. I’ll be fascinated to see where it might lead.
FAUXNEY RHYMING SLANG
Adam Hills noun – nonsense
The Australian comedian gives a rhyme for slang ‘pills’ (the testicles) which then puns on ‘bollocks’ or ‘balls’.
Example of use: “He’s talking Adam Hills.”
Alex Brooker noun – a contemptible person or annoying thing
Rhymes ‘fucker’, in a northern accent, with English journalist and TV presenter Alex Brooker.
Example of use: “My hangover is a proper Alex Brooker.”
Amy noun – the vagina
Rhymes the slang abbreviation ‘vadge’ with English singer and songwriter Amy Wadge.
Example of use: “I call my Amy Amy.”
Ariadne adj. – useful, handy
A forced rhyme on Ariadne Grande, the professional name of American singer and actress Ariadne Grande-Butera.
Example of use: “A screwdriver will come in Ariadne.”
Bill Bailey noun – a ukulele
Rhyme formed on English actor, comedian and musician Bill Bailey.
Example of use: “He was having a strum on his old Bill Bailey.”
Billie Eilish; Billie adj. – Irish
Rhymes on the professional name of American (of Irish-Scottish descent) singer, songwriter and actress Billie Eilish O’Connell. Possibly influenced by ‘King Billy’ (William of Orange) in which case the meaning could imply a protestant background.
Examples of use: “The luck of the Billie Eilish.” and “I’ll be alright, Jack – I have a Billie passport.”
Full Billie noun – a ‘full Irish’ breakfast
From Billie Eilish.
Example of use: “You’ll be wanting the full Billie and a cup of builders’.”
- behind Bruno – in prison
From the phrase ‘behind bars’; rhymes ‘bars’ with American singer and producer Bruno Mars.
Example of use: “Get caught with that in your mitts and you’ll be behind Bruno before you know it.”
Calvin noun – the buttocks, the anus; an arse
Formed on rhyming slang ‘aris’; as a rhyme on Scottish singer, DJ and producer Calvin Harris.
Example of use: “What an absolute Harry in the Calvin.” [for ‘Harry’ see: Harry Kane]
calvins noun – haemorrhoids
Rhymes on ‘piles’; formed as a hidden rhyme on the family name of DJ Calvin Harris: Adam Richard Wiles. Influenced by Calvin (the anus).
Example of use: “My calvins are itching something terrible.”
Cardi B; Cardi noun – an act of urination
Rhymes ‘pee’ or ‘wee’ with American rapper Cardi B.
Examples of use: “Just going for a Cardi B.” and “That’s better. I was busting for a Cardi.”
Daisy Ridley adj. – mildly drunk
Rhymes ‘tiddly’ with the English Star Wars actress.
Example of use: “Room for one more. I’m only Daisy Ridley.”
Daliso noun – a paramedic
Malawian comedian Daliso Chaponda provides a rhyme for ‘first responder’.
Example of use: “The Dalisos were on the scene almost before the smoke cleared.”
Dua Lipa noun – a zippered fly on a pair of trousers
Rhymes ‘zipper’ or ‘the zipper’ with the English singer and songwriter Dua Lipa.
Example of use: “Can you lend me a hand? My Dua Lipa’s got stuck.”
Ed Sheeran noun – an unusual person or thing
Rhymes the dated idiom ‘queer’un’ with the English singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran.
Example of use: “Well I never, that’s an Ed Sheeran.”
Gal Gadot noun – an inadequate, contemptible person
Rhymes ‘saddo’ with the popular but incorrect pronunciation of the Israeli actress’s name.
Example of use: “Some of the pathetic, hate-filled Gal Gadots in this thread…”
Grayson adj. – slightly drunk, merry
A rhyme created for the English fine artist Grayson Perry.
Example of use: “He’s more than a bit Grayson – he’s feeling no pain.”
- to give the Idris – to reject someone or something
from the phrase ‘to give the elbow’, forming a weak rhyme on the professional name of English actor, singer and all-rounder Idris Elba.
Example of use: “Let’s go out and give work the Idris.”
Harry Kane; Harry noun – a pain
A rhyme formed on English footballer Harry Edward Kane.
Examples of use: “I’m all aches and Harry Kanes.” and “What an absolute Harry in the Calvin.” [for ‘Calvin’ see: Calvin]
Jack noun – nothing
Rhymes ‘shite-all’ with English actor and comedian Jack Whitehall. Influenced by slang ‘jack shit’.
Example of use: “There’s Jack to worry about.”
Jack adj. – worthless
Rhymes ‘shite-all’ with English actor, comedian Jack Whitehall.
Example of use: “What’s the point? It’s all Jack.”
Jack All noun – nothing
Extends Jack formed as a rhyme of ‘shite all’ with Jack Whitehall.
Example of use: “Thanks for nothing: you were Jack All use.”
Jamie Vardy noun – a cardigan
Rhymes the familiar abbreviation ‘cardi’ with English footballer Jamie Vardy.
Example of use: “My Jamie Vardy is baggy and out at the elbows.”
JME and Skepta noun – a smoke detector
The Nigerian-British grime artists JME and Skepta are brothers, twinned here to provide the rhyme.
Example of use: “Turn that bloody JME and Skepta off!”
Josh noun – hair; the hair
Formed on a rhyme with Widecombe Fair, punning the surname of English comedian Josh Widdicombe.
Example of use: “She’s got a lot of ginger Josh.”
Lionel adj. – messy
A rhyme made on the English pronunciation of the name of Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.
Example of use: “They are going through a bloody Lionel divorce.”
Olly noun – a bystander
A rhyme formed on the English singer and actor Olly Alexander.
Example of use: “Really, I wasn’t involved. I’m just an Olly.”
Nicki Minaj adj. – large
A simple rhyme on the Trinidadian ‘Queen of Rap’ Nicki Minaj.
Example of use: “Make mine Nicki Minaj.”
used as a substitute for ‘own’ in the phrase ‘on one’s own’
Rhyming slang formed on Post Malone, the professional name of American rapper Austin Richard Post.
Example of use: “I’m stuck here on my Post.”
Rag ’n’ Bone noun – a grandmother
Rhyming ‘gran’ or ‘nan’ with Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, the professional identity of English singer Rory Graham.
Example of use: “My Rag ‘n’ Bone is old enough to remember the Beatles.”
Rita Ora noun – a person who snores
A simple rhyme of ‘snorer’ and Kosovan-English singer and actress Rita Ora.
Example of use: “I didn’t get a wink all night. She’s an awful Rita Ora.”
Sam Smith noun – a lie, an untruth
Formed by rhyming ‘myth’ with English singer Sam Smith.
Example of use: “No word of a Sam Smith.”
Taylor Swift; Taylor-made adj – makeshift
American singer Taylor Swift supports the direct rhyme and its punning variation.
Examples of use: “The refugees are housed in Taylor Swift accommodation.” and “The rioting prisoners were armed with a Taylor-made weapons.”
Taron Egerton; Taron adj. – doubtful, unsure
Rhymes ‘uncertain’ with Welsh actor Taron Egerton.
Examples of use: “I’m Taron Egerton of the signal round there.” and “My prospects are a bit Taron right now.”
Tennant and Sheen noun – a vaccine
Scottish actor David Tennant and Welsh actor Michael Sheen have been paired in a couple of TV projects and tandemised they inspire some rhyming slang.
Example of use: “You need two jabs of Tennant and Sheen.”
Tom Hardy adj. – fat
Rhymes ‘lardy’ with English actor Tom Hardy.
Example of use: “Oi! Shift your Tom Hardy aris.”
Zayn noun – an irritating know-all
Rhymes ‘smart alec’ with English singer Zayn Malik.
Example of use: “OK, Zayn, what do you think we should do?”
… … …
And that’s your lot for now. Spread the word.
I should have mentioned…
A version of this will appear on the Word Wrangling with Terry Victor podcast in the next couple of weeks.