(Es)Sex in the City (ex_vanillaco754) wrote in cheap_as_chips,
(Es)Sex in the City

WotD: Just looking

Today's WotD is fairly topical, as I've just been asked to explain its meaning by one of my American colleagues. One of his clients had used it in relation to a document they were viewing ... he said 'Let's have a butcher's at it'. Obviously the client wasn't suggesting that the local Butcher be dragged into the meeting to give his opinion. Said colleague then legged it down to Mockney Central to get the gen!


• noun
1 a person who cuts up and sells meat as a trade.
2 a person who slaughters animals for food.

PHRASES have (or take) a butcher’s Brit. informal have a look.
butcher’s from butcher’s hook, rhyming slang for a look.

DERIVATIVES butchery noun.

ORIGIN Old French bochier, from boc ‘he-goat’.

Again (have/having a)butcher's is a fairly common term in London and is used regularly in police shows and soap operas, usually as an indicator to the character's origins. I'm sure it's not a word used by the Royal Family!

I had a request by email for some further info on 'cockney rhyming slang' and it's origins. So, courtesy of Peevish.co.uk:

What exactly is Cockney rhyming slang?
Cockney rhyming slang at its most simplest uses a conjunction of words, where the last word is used to suggest a rhyme, which is its definition. For example one of the most famous and one that is very rarely used in all seriousness is apples and pears, meaning stairs. Usually the rhyming slang is abbreviated to just the first word, so the above example would become apples. This in effect makes a sentence in which it is employed much harder to understand and when a phrase incorporates two or more elements of rhyming slang the meaning becomes so obscure that to the in initiated confusion is the result. There lies its original purpose, as a form of coded speech.
The most amusing and cleverest rhyming slang forms a connection with its subject matter and with the sense it imbues, often employing strong irony. Whether or not that irony was intended at the outset doesn't matter greatly, it just helps to entertain.

The origins of rhyming slang
This often bewildering form of slang, although now actually heard throughout the English-speaking world, originally developed in an area of inner London now known as the East End. This area, Cockney London, was once defined as being that which was within the sound of Bow bells, the church bells belonging to the now demolished Church of St Mary Le Bow, in Cheapside.
The word Cockney itself, from an earlier spelling cokeney, literally means cock's egg, a small malformed egg that is occasionally laid by young hens. During the 1700's the term, used by country folk, was applied to town's folk who were considered ignorant of the established customs and country ways. This term in due course became synonymous with working class Londoners themselves and has now lost its once denigrating qualities. Despite the current definition of a Cockney, to most outsiders a Cockney is anyone from London itself.
Rhyming slang, just part of the Cockney vernacular, is believed to have come to prominence in the early to mid 1800's. It is frequently suggested that it began its life as the tongue of the London street trader, the costermongers, perhaps in an attempt to conceal their often illicit practices from the public or more importantly any illegal activities from the recently established police force, the Peelers. It may well have begun its evolution many years before then. Another area of speculation is how from being such a localised dialect it gained so much prominence; the suggestion here, is that Cockney rhyming slang was adopted by the underworld. It was the necessity of the police to learn this criminal language and by its subsequent publication in law enforcement manuals rhyming slang became widely known.

So now you know!
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