A load of pony – queer meanings in Cockney rhyming slang

Did you know that cockney rhyming slang is littered with many different ways of saying ‘gay’? Here are a few of our favourites

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This week, as part of the Cockney Heritage Festival, East End boozer the Joiners Arms is hosting an event entitled ‘Any Old Iron? Queer Cockneys’. But did you know that cockney rhyming slang is littered with many different ways of saying ‘gay’? Here are a few of our favourites – and one from the land of Oz. Can you guess which?

‘Iron’ (‘Iron hoof’ = ‘poof’)
In Cockney rhyming slang, only the first word is generally used. So the abbreviated form of 'iron hoof' is 'iron', the queer meaning of which is highlighted in the title of this week's talk . Any Old Iron is also the name of an old music hall song, which was a big hit for Peter Sellers.

‘Perry’ (‘Perry Como’ = ‘homo’)
An irresistible rhyme with the king of easy listening, who died in 2001. Como himself was hetero and married to wife Roselle for 65 years.

‘Ginger’ (‘Ginger beer’ = ‘queer’)
Gingerbeer is the name of a London-based online network for lesbians. Asked why they chose that name, the organisers replied: ‘Gingerbeer is cockney rhyming slang for “queer”. We also like drinking beer with ginger-haired people.’

‘Haricot’ (‘Haricot bean’ = ‘queen’)
The humble haricot is better known as the main ingredient in a tin of baked beans. It’s also slang for ‘effeminate homosexual’ or ‘queen’.

‘Stoke’ (‘Stoke-on-Trent’ = ‘bent’)
According to ‘The Ultimate Cockney Geezer’s Guide to Rhyming Slang’, ‘Stoke’ means ‘bent’ in the sense of ‘criminal’ or ‘gay’.


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