‘Seppo’ is English slang for Americans. (Seppo = septic tanks = Yanks)

I’m all for good-natured ribbing. I can take a joke. But I take umbrage at being equated with something that is literally filled with shit. I mean, we used to call Brits ‘limeys’. That’s just a reference to their old scurvy-prevention measures. It’s a little different from calling someone a shit container. How would they like it if we called them ‘buckets’ (bucket of shit = rhymes with Brit)? Or some other offensive nickname?

Not that I’m calling for retaliation. I like British people. My ancestry is British (and includes an Archbishop of Canterbury, ironically enough). I understand that they mock themselves all the time.

I really can take a joke. I mock myself all the time. I mock (and criticise) the U.S. all the time. I just don’t like being equated to feces, just because of where I was born.

Given that it’s rhyming slang, I don’t think we need be offended. Often the expressions on which rhyming slang is based as nothing whatsoever to do with the thing or person which the rhyming expression is used to denote.

As an example, in the early 1800s rhyming slang had some currency in New York City. “Cain and Abel” was a “chair and table”. In a case like this there’s clearly no negative spin intended. On the other hand, “trouble and strife” (=wife) does seem somewhat negative.

Where “seppo” fits in this spectrum I have no idea.

To tell the truth, I can’t think of any other cases of “rhyming slang” that seems quite so offensive.

“Dukes” (as in “put up your…”) from “Duke of York” > “fork”

“Raspberry” from “Raspberry tart” > “fart”

“Bristols” (as in “Boobs”) from “Bristol Cities” > “titties”

but “Seppos” from “Septic Tanks” > “Yanks” does seem to be a bit harsh.

How about: “Fetus raping, colonialist, royal badger fuckers”?

Or doesn’t that rhyme?

What’s it supposed to rhyme with?

Um…itself…like a short stanza…

Slinking away…

Well, I’ve heard the brits referred to as “teabags,” and that can be a euphemism for testicles, so there you go! Even Steven.

I think that’s pretty right. I’d hazard a guess that those in Australia who use the term *Seppo * (and it isn’t especially common here nowadays) simply mentally equate it with American, without even considering its rhyming slang derivation (assuming they’re even aware of it).

But do we know for sure that “seppos” is from “septic tank”? I’m sort of under the impression that “septic tank” is an American usage, and that the British would say “cesspool.” Could it be that this whole thing is a myth, and that the British love us after all?

I don’t get rhyming slang at all. By whose rhyme? Do we generally agree on the rhyming word, or can we use our own? In which case, I’m going to use “seppos” to refer to banks. Or perhaps some sort of stench (“rank”). Perhaps some sort of turning device (“crank”). Or for something wilted (“lank”).

I don’t get it.

Eh, in a hundred years they’ll be living under sharia. If they want to call us seppos now, I don’t mind.

I live in England and I’ve never heard of this before. Is it a relatively new London Cockney thing, because I thought I’d heard most of the traditional insults?

It’s worth pointing out that the more obscure rhyming slang like “septic” and “Britneys” (Spears = beers) is almost always used in a knowing way, as if to challenge the listener to work out what the rhyme stands for. While some rhyming slang is universally understood, like “butcher’s” (butcher’s hook = look, e.g. “let’s have a butcher’s”), “porkies” (pork pies = lies), I bet many if not most British people have no idea what a “septic” is supposed to be.

Huh. And here, I would have assumed that “seppo” was short for “separatist”, as in, someone who broke away from the British Empire.

I also share Snickers’ confusion about rhyming slang… Not only is there ambiguity in the rhyming word, there’s also often ambiguity in the phrase completion. For instance, “raspberry” could also be “raspberry pie” = “eye”, or the like. There’s no chance, for most of them, that a person exposed to a new piece of rhyming slang would be able to figure it out based on the rhyme. So you basically have to have the author of any new term explain beforehand “Hey, let’s use the word ‘raspberry’ to mean ‘fart’!”. But by the time you get to that point, you might as well drop the rhyming, and just use whatever words you want.

No, because “raspberry pie” is not a particularly memorable or well-known phrase. “Pork pie”, on the other hand, is. (I realise that “butcher’s hook” sounds rather obscure now, but I guess people spent more time in butcher’s shops back then).

I think rhyming slang exists because it’s fun to invent new ones, ideally with an amusingly incongrous rhyme, and then see if people can work them out. This is why “Britneys” has caught on - it’s faintly amusing and just easy enough to decipher, especially from context - “fancy coming down the Nags Head for a couple of Britneys?” - that people generally get it even if they haven’t heard it before.

Hold on a sec…

are we Seppos in the UK as well as in Australia?

Since when do people need a better reason to be offended than being referred to by a container for feces? My general rule of thumb is that, when determining if something is offensive or not, to ask those who would potentially be offended by whatever is being said.

I fully understand that some of those who use the term may not mean it to cause offense, but that doesn’t mean it is not offensive. Heck, I’ve been mortified by the number of posters on this board who use the word “Jap” and don’t believe they’re saying anything that might cause offense, but it is not really up to them, is it?

What’s more, I would also note how rarely the term seppos is used in a complementary way: “Boy, those seppos are just the salt of the earth. Horray for seppos! You seppos really saved our asses when the twist and shouts tried to invade.” Eh, not so much.

I’d say odds are that if the term seppo is being used, the word ‘wanker’ isn’t far behind. That doesn’t speak well for divorcing the word from its shitcan origins.

Spot on. I’m fairly confident that ‘septic’ is a recent development - but no Brit has ever needed it explaining. The principle is that the words are used in such a way that the meaning is obvious even thought the vocabulary is not. Britneys have been mentioned, and other modern additions include the Ayrton (Senna = Tenner), and ‘gone a bit Pete Tong’ (=wrong).

Completely missing the point. If you’re regarded as fair game as a target of humour, it means you’re liked, not disliked. Storming off in a huff will just make people mutter ‘bloody Americans’, then continue whatever they were doing.

Erm, ‘raspberry’ is often derived from ‘raspberry ripple’ as well as ‘raspberry tart.’ And I must be the one Brit who would have needed ‘seppo’ explained to her.