Having a gecko

I was having a gecko at the internet today because this morning at breakfast I heard an English expression that was entirely new to me. ‘Having a dekko.’

One can suppose, having discovered this expression, that gecko is rhyming slang for dekko. But what on earth is dekko rhyming slang for?

It turns out to be nothing of the kind. Phrase Finder says it is

‘Dekho’ is a Hindi word meaning ‘look’. The expression first began to be used by the British in India in the middle of the 19th century and soon migrated back home with soldiers on leave. The phrase was originally ‘have a deck’, which derived in the same way but which has now gone out of use. ‘Have a dekko’ is first found in print in January 1856 in an appropriate place – Allen’s Indian Mail, a newspaper devoted to news of India and China aimed at the families of servicemen stationed there:

The natives of the place flock round, with open mouths and straining eyes, to have a dekko.

‘Have a dekko’ was (and is) used mostly in the London area, as are two other phrases with the same ‘have a look’ meaning – ‘have a Captain Cook’ and ‘have a butchers’, which are both rhyming slang rather than foreign imports.’

Don’t say you don’t get the important stuff here.

4 thoughts on “Having a gecko

  1. Well, I suggest the rhyming slang elaboration “have an Umberto”. Umberto Eco rhymes with dekko, right?

    I must see if I can find more of these…

    • I do like having an Umberto. A bit classy for Australians though. If you said that in Australia I don’t know what would happen to you.

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