Back slang

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Back slang is an English coded language in which the written word is spoken phonemically backwards.


Back slang is thought to have originated in Victorian England, being used mainly by market sellers, such as butchers and greengrocers, to have private conversations behind their customers' backs and pass off lower quality goods to less observant customers.[citation needed]

Some back slang has entered standard English. For example, the term 'yob' was originally back slang for 'boy'.

Back slang is said to be used in prisons by inmates to make it harder for prison wardens to listen into prisoners' conversations and find out what they were talking about. This use of back slang was highlighted in the 9 June 2010 episode of Crimewatch Roadshow.

Back slang has been reported[1] to have been adopted for the sake of privacy on foreign tennis courts by the young English players Laura Robson and Heather Watson.

Other languages[edit]

Other languages have similar coded forms but reversing the order of syllables rather than phonemes. These include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Simon Cambers, "Laura Robson reveals the benefits of talking in tongues on tour", The Guardian, 25 January 2010

External links[edit]