Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Bowler hats – a type of titfer – on sale at the Portobello Road Market in London, England, UK

Short for tit for tat.[1]



titfer (plural titfers)

  1. (Cockney rhyming slang) A hat. [from 1930s]
    • 1946, C[ecil] V[incent] R[aymond] Thompson, chapter 3, in How to Like an Englishman, New York, N.Y.: G. P. Putnam's Sons, OCLC 1513768, pages 50–51:
      And one of the greatest exponents of rhyming slang I ever knew once addressed this question to me: "Tell me, is my titfer on solicitor's fee?" Now I got "titfer" immediately, of course. The question had something to do with his hat. But after trying for fifteen minutes to work out what "solicitor's fee" meant, I had to give up. Almost compassionately the expert explained. A solicitor (attorney) usually charges six shillings and eightpence, or colloquially speaking, six and eight. Six and eight is rhyming slang for straight. So all he wanted to know was if his hat were on straight.
    • 1993, James Clavell, James Clavell’s Gai-Jin: A Novel of Japan, New York, N.Y.: Delacorte Press, →ISBN, pages 265–266:
      "Thee's a right rotten skinflint, Barnaby," Victoria hissed at her husband. "Mabel and me're going to have new folderols if it costs thee thy whole company by God! And we wants titfers like her's by God!" / "Wot?" / "Yes wot! Titfers—hats!"
    • 1993 November, Hilda Hollingsworth, chapter 5, in Places of Greater Safety, Berkeley, Calif.: Zenobia Press, →ISBN, page 38:
      Words like ‘rough’ and ‘rude’ were used instead, especially by a stuck-up girl called Jessica, whose mother was a milliner. A posh milliner at that – so Jessica said. We didn’t let on that we were ignorant enough not to know what she was talking about. That would have made her swankier than ever. But Auntie Viv came to the rescue when she told me that it meant a lady who made hats. When I told this to Winnie she laughed and went straight up to Jessica and said ‘Ow’s yer muvver gettin’ on wiv the titfers, eh?’ / Jessica obviously knew that ‘titfers’ was a Cockney word for hats. Her face went all mean and white.
    • 2012, David Chance, “Back to Canada”, in Around the World in 80 Years, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Xlibris, →ISBN, page 562:
      On this trip I heard him say something that I had not heard for a long time. He always called his hat a Titfer, and I know this is part of the cockney slang phrase "Tit for Tat." This slang is where the last syllable [tat], rhymes with the word that is being talked about, in this case, it's the word hat. The slang has been around for many years.
    • 2015 July 30, Oliver Merlin, “Great Party”, in Clapham High Way, [Morrisville, N.C.]: Lulu Publishing Services, →ISBN, page 194:
      "We understand that it's New Year's Eve, sir. But we have had several complaints from local residents, and we have been asked to come and kindly request that you turn your music down." / "Not a problem Occifers," I say, because there were two of them. Lulu has appeared in the doorway and wants to flirt with the Occifers and try on their titfers. They smile at her but don't say anything.
    • 2016, Alan Moore, “Hark! The Glad Sound!”, in Jerusalem: A Novel, New York, N.Y.; London: Liveright Publishing Corporation, →ISBN, page 330:
      Tommy remembered Uncle Johnny standing up from his chair in the snug and settling his titfer on his head, what made him look as if he were a bookie.




  1. ^ Geoff Tibballs (2008) , “Tit for tat”, in The Ultimate Cockney Geezer’s Guide to Rhyming Slang, London: Ebury Press, Ebury Publishing, →ISBN, page 182:
    Tit for tat hat / The phrase ‘tit for tat [] emerged as a rhyme for ‘hat’ in the late nineteenth century and was subsequently condensed to ‘titfer’ around 1930, in which form it enjoyed unparalleled success at a time when virtually everyone wore a hat.