Not a sausage – English Idiom – Online English Lessons

Not a sausage means nothing, zero or nil.

This idiom derives from the Cockney rhyming slang ‘sausage and mash’ which means ‘cash’. Not a sausage originally meant to have no cash (money).

Examples of use:

1. Do you have any money left for a taxi?

    No, not a sausage.

2. Is there any rice in the cupboard?

    Nope. Not a sausage. I forgot to buy some.

A cockney is a native of the East End of London – especially someone born within the sound of Bow Bells, the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church in Cheapside, London.

Cockney is also a London dialect – especially of the East End of London.

In Cockney rhyming slang a pair of associated words, or sometimes one word, is used in place of the word you want to say.  The Cockney rhyming slang expression rhymes with the word it has replaced. 

Here are some common examples of Cockney rhyming slang:

  • would you Adam and Eve it? – would you believe it?
  • apples and pears – stairs
  • they had a bull and cow – they had a row (argument)
  • macaroni cheese – keys
  • giraffe – laugh
  • mickey mouse – house

In 2009, a cash machine operator in east London introduced Cockney rhyming slang to some of its cash machines. Customers were asked for their Huckleberry Finn (PIN) and how much sausage and mash (cash) they wanted!

Some people say that Cockney rhyming slang may have originated among market traders or thieves as a type of code: a way of speaking without customers or the police understanding what was being said.

Can you make up (invent) your own examples of rhyming slang?

Choose a word, think of word which rhymes with it, and see what you get 🙂

Image by RUD66