A guide to London taxi language

A guide to London taxi language

David the Captial CabbieI often get asked about why taxi drivers say certain things & to explain their phrases. So I decided to ask David ‘The Captial Cabbie’, who leads tours of London in his black taxi cab, for his insight into ‘Taxi speak’, i.e. how cabbies (taxi drivers) speak & what they mean. He kindly wrote this little story for Perfect Cuppa English to show all the different phrases they use & shared his taxi language translator. I even learnt something new & so now you know how to speak taxi language! 

David is currently researching & developing new projects for his tours. Follow the Capital Cabbie to find out more where he can take you on his real London tours. 
David’s story:

2 Cabbies (taxi drivers), let us say Dave and Vic, having a cup of Rosie Lee (tea) in a Cab man’s Shelter (Green Hut).

How are yer doing Vic, not too bad Dave, considering it’s just after Christmas and we’re in the middle of the Kipper season (quiet trading period just after Christmas), I’m just ticking over.

You’ll never guess who I had in the back of the Sherbet (taxi cab) yesterday, I was at the Raft (Victoria station) sitting on point (First Taxi on the Rank) and this Single Pin (passenger) comes up to me and say’s ‘Palace of Westminster please driver’. I say’s ‘Of course treacle’ (term of endearment when a cabbie is being friendly), the Gas Works (Parliament), that shouldn’t take too long. So off we trot, got her there in double quick time, she gets there and pays what’s on the clock and legals me off  (didn’t give me a tip).

I drive round Parliament Square and drive over Westminster Bridge to join the rank at the Loo (Waterloo station), waited for a bit and this lady comes up to the window and say’s ‘Kings Cross please driver’. Now I knew I recognised her Boat (face) but couldn’t put a name to her. So off we go across Waterloo Bridge, as I am just getting up a bit of speed, I noticed a Kojak with a Kodak (a handheld Speed gun), so I put the anchors (brakes) on a bit and slowed down. Eventually we get to the Cross (King’s Cross) and I suddenly realise who the punter (passenger) is sitting in the back, she’d had her head in a book for most of the journey, ‘excuse me darling I am sure I recognise you, is your name JK Rowling by any chance’, ‘yes’, she says, where shall I drop you off, platform 9 ¾?


A Lexicon of Cabbie Speak

Anchors                      Brakes

Be Lucky                    A departing greeting

Bilk                              To run off without paying

Blue Trees                  Police speeding trap

Boat                             Face

Brown Coat                Taxi Vehicle inspector

Burst                           End of Theatre/Cinema viewings, passengers looking for taxis

Butter boy                  A newly qualified female or male Taxi Driver

Clock                           The Meter

Cross                           Kings Cross

Den of Thieves          Stock Exchange

Dirty Dozen                A series of small streets in Soho that cabbies would use for journeys going from West to East as short cuts. Unfortunately, some of this is difficult to navigate at present due to Cross Rail having to dig up most of Soho.

Flyers                          Airport

Gas Works                  Parliament

Guvnor                        A Police Officer

Iron Lung                   Men’s toilet near Victoria

Kangaroo Valley        Earls Court

Kipper Season            Quiet trading period just after Christmas

Kite                               A Cheque

Kojak with a Kodak   A handheld Speed gun

Legaled off                  No Tip

Loo                               Waterloo Station

On Point                      First Taxi on the Rank

On the Cotton             As the crow flies

Pipe                               Blackwall Tunnel

Punter                           Passenger

Raft                               Victoria Station

Roader                         Long Journey

Sherbet                       Taxi Cab

Treacle                         A term of endearment

Single Pin                    One Passenger

Wedding Cake            Queen Victoria Memorial

Thank you David for the great insight into cabbies’ language! 
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