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LONDON TAXI LANGUAGE: What defines a 'Copperbottom' cabbie?

Updated: Jan 4

The London Taxi industry is not only known for its iconic black cabs and friendly drivers, but also for its rich collection of colourful slang.

Among the many terms that have been coined within this industry, 'copperbottom' stands out as a word steeped in tradition, representing the dedicated cabbies who work tirelessly to serve the bustling city.

Derived from an old British term referring to reliability and durability, 'copperbottom' is used to describe the hardworking and resilient taxi drivers that go above and beyond, dedicating themselves to long hours of service. These individuals are the unsung heroes who navigate through the labyrinthine streets of London, ensuring the smooth transport of passengers from one destination to another.

In order to become a London taxi driver, candidates must undergo a rigorous and comprehensive training process. Prospective cabbies must pass an intense examination known as 'The Knowledge'. This includes memorising over 25,000 streets and up to 20,000 landmarks across the city, demonstrating exceptional navigation skills, and an in-depth understanding of London's intricate road network. Once qualified, all taxi drivers become self-employed, giving them the freedom to determine their own working hours.

While the concept of self-employment offers flexibility, it also means that the burden of finding fares and maintaining income falls squarely on the drivers themselves. This often leads to cabbies working long hours in order to make ends meet. The term 'copperbottom', therefore, reflects the dedication and commitment of these hardworking individuals who don't shy away from the challenges that come with the job.

So, the next time you step into a London cab, spare a thought for the 'copperbottom' driver behind the wheel, the one who embraces long hours and ensures that the city's wheels keep turning, allowing Londoners and visitors alike to explore and experience this vibrant metropolis.


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