A nifty won't get you a decent crib

March 31, 2000

No new slang has emerged in the past few years for what used to be called digs. London students will still refer to their pad (the 1960s favourite), their gaff (heard for at least 100 years), or their drum (from underworld/police jargon).

What is new is the trendiness of black British street-talk: white and Asian students will refer to their bedsit as their yard, crib or cot.

Changes in lifestyles can be tracked by studying slang. One startling difference between today's students and their predecessors is the obsession with money. With cheap rents and generous grants our ancestors could make do with that simple pejorative, bread. But not today. A host ofsynonyms for money have flooded the slang lexicon since the 1980s - spon, wonga, ackers, rhino, trust and squirt among them.

Pound coins are nuggets or beer-tokens; notes are papers or billies, and there is a detailed breakdown of different denominations;a Pounds 50 note is a nifty, a Pounds 10 note a Bennie, and a fiver a Lady - from the Cockney rhyme Lady Godiva. Thus, a sum of Pounds 15 is known in some circles as a Commodore (from Commodores' hit Three Times a Lady).

Slang terms from the Slang Archive at King's College, London.

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