Using Your Loaf

When I was growing up in the north of England, at bedtime my mum always used to say: come on now, up the apples.

In those days, men still wore titfers.

When people asked questions my dad thought were stupid, he’d say: use your loaf.

What I most love about rhyming slang is that you lop the second term off, so no rhyme is left, achieving what is presumed to have been the original purpose: mystification.


  • apples and pears = stairs
  • tit for tat = hat
  • loaf of bread = head

In recent times there’s been a trend to use the names of celebrities or historical personages which I find hilarious.

  • The dog’s left a Richard on the lawn.
  • I’m staying off work today. I’ve got a terrible Vincent.
  • It’s freezing. Turn up the Ronan.
  • Let’s go down the pub for a couple of Britneys. On second thoughts, how about a bottle of really good Calvin? Or a glass of vintage Mahatma?

Tell us what they are in the Comments (sorry, no prizes.) And share your own favourites, too.



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12 Responses

  1. I do love witty word play! It’s one of the things I miss most about living in the UK. That sense of language bending is ubiquitous. I wish we (I) were better at it here in the States.

    As for your samples, the first one escapes me, but I think I’ve sussed out the rest.
    Vincent (van Gogh) – cough
    Ronan (Keating) – heating
    Britney (Spears) – beers
    Calvin (Klein) – wine
    Mahatma (Ghandi) – brandy

    How did I do??

    Great fun this! Thank you!

  2. These are so great, The only one I figured out was the Vincent, but if this was going on in regular conversation, I’d be completely lost. Please keep showing us more. I’m enjoying it immensely. The only thing I can think of for the Richard is a III turd?

    I’m so beautifully lost.

  3. So, I’m like the student who sits in the back of room and raises her hand to ask “what are we doing” just as the teacher has finished the instructions and the other kids have started working. LOL. NOW I get it! LOL!

    I was gonna say “use your noodle” as another example, but it’s not a rhyming example, just a reference to how the brain looks like a bowl of noodles, possibly. LOL!

  4. It’s totally alive – the slang. New ones being coined all the time. I have to say, not living in the UK, I don’t get a lot of the British celebrity ones. There’s actually a Bible in Cockney. Have just dug out my copy.

  5. This is wonderful, Valerie. What a lovely spin on words and agree that it was great fun. I admit not catching onto one before Carryl listed them. Thanks for sharing! I greatly enjoyed reading.

  6. This far south of the equator we use British English, but damn I was cross eyed for a while there. If I start using language like this, I would be hauled off in a straight jacket. Thought the idea incredibly funny, but not likely to happen in this country. Punning already a bit of a challenge for most.

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