When it was first discussed in print, in the mid-nineteenth century, rhyming slang was presented as a secret code used by thieves, though other possible origins have been suggested. What is certain is that it came to be associated with London’s costermongers and later with residents of the East End of London in general. This paper will provide an overview of the history of rhyming slang lexicography. It will argue that the popularity of rhyming slang owes more to its media representations than to its everyday use by genuine Cockneys, and also that in recent years it has become more broadly emblematic of traditional ideas of Englishness.Post-print
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