Only Fools and Horses

These Only Fools and Horses Phrases became so well used they were added to the dictionary

Where did the likes of 'lovely jubbly', 'cushty' and 'plonker' actually come from?

John Sullivan’s iconic Peckham-based sitcom has developed quite the cult following since it aired throughout the 80’s and 90’s.

The show’s main characters, brothers Derek ‘Del Boy’ and Rodney Trotter, brought their unintelligible Cockney slang to the small screen as they tried to get rich, coining ridiculous phrases such as Stoke on Trent (a gay man), el-bow (to end a relationship), and boraric or brassic (skint).

You might need a Cockney dictionary to understand it all.

In fact, some of Del Boy’s phrases became so commonly used that they have even been added to the English dictionary.

So what are these famous catchphrases, what do they mean, and where on earth do they come from?

We think Del Boy would approve of them being in the dictionary (Image: BBC)

Lovely Jubbly

This soon became one of Del Boy’s famous catchphrases, and was supposedly borrowed from an advertising slogan for Jubbly Orange Drink, sold in a pyramid-shaped paper carton.

Sullivan had remembered it and thought it would be a suitable expression for Del Boy to use.

It certainly caught on. In 2003, the phrase was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Oxford cites it as an informal British phrase used to express delight or approval.


This Cockney phrase was popularised outside the realms of South London thanks to Del Boy, and it comes from the Romany word ‘kushitipen’ or ‘kushti’, meaning good.

It appears in the Oxford English dictionary as an informal British phrase for very good or pleasing.


“What a 42-carat plonker you really are!”

Another Del Boy catchword, the inclusion of plonker was apparently one of the more riskier additions to the show’s scripts.

Speaking to UKTV about the show’s slang, David Jason who played the character of Del Boy said he didn’t think the word would get past the BBC’s censorship, and that he believes the producers were completely oblivious as to what the word really meant “for us working class lads.”

The first use of plonker to mean “a foolish, inept, or contemptible person” is attested in the Oxford English Dictionary to the third episode of Only Fools and Horses in 1981, in which Del Boy exclaims to his brother: “Rodney! I didn’t mean to drive off!

“What a plonker!”

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