Where does the expression having a barney come from?

Answered by Jason Smith

The expression “having a barney” originates from Cockney rhyming slang, a form of slang that developed in the East End of London. Cockney rhyming slang is characterized by the use of phrases or words that rhyme with the intended meaning. In this case, the phrase “barney Rubble” rhymes with “trouble,” so it has come to mean trouble or a fight.

Cockney rhyming slang is believed to have emerged in the 19th century as a way for the working-class residents of the East End to communicate in a coded manner. It was a form of linguistic creativity and a means of exclusion from those who were not familiar with the slang. The rhyming nature of the slang made it difficult for outsiders to understand its meaning unless they were familiar with the specific rhymes.

Barney Rubble is a character from the popular animated television series “The Flintstones.” He is the best friend of the main character, Fred Flintstone. The choice of using “Barney Rubble” to mean trouble in Cockney rhyming slang is likely due to the fact that “Rubble” rhymes with “trouble.” It’s a playful and clever way of expressing the concept of trouble or conflict.

The use of “barney” to refer to a fight or trouble has become more widespread beyond the Cockney community. It is now commonly used in British English, particularly in informal or colloquial contexts. People might say, “I got into a bit of a barney last night,” to indicate that they were involved in a physical altercation or encountered some kind of difficulty.

It’s worth noting that Cockney rhyming slang has a rich history and is still used to some extent today, although it has become less common. The unique language has become part of the cultural identity of London’s East End and has been featured in various forms of media and literature.

The expression “having a barney” comes from Cockney rhyming slang, where “barney Rubble” is used to mean trouble or a fight. It is a playful and creative way of expressing conflict or difficulty, originating from the rhyming nature of Cockney slang.