Definition of pearly king in English:

pearly king

(also pearly queen)


  • A London costermonger wearing traditional ceremonial clothes covered with pearl buttons.

    • ‘Think of the East End of London and no doubt you think of pearly kings and queens, rhyming slang, jellied eels, the Blitz, slums, smog, bare-knuckle fighting, crime, murder, death… ah, it's not a place with the best associations, is it?’
    • ‘Gone were the pearly kings and queens, the boozers and the gangsters, gone was the romance of the chimney sweep and the cries of Olde London, gone was the Plague and the Black Death.’
    • ‘The music lets you see grand, glittering processions as well as singing and dancing buskers - the pearly kings and queens - side by side.’
    • ‘Some people were indefatigable Royal watchers, while some reflected her life and work - an East End pearly king recalling her great work during the Blitz and war veterans her support for the armed forces.’
    • ‘Some soldiers looked more like pearly kings than fighting men.’


pearly king

/pəːli ˈkɪŋ/