Hello all,
I hope that someone may be able to give me the definitive answer to this question:
What is the derivation of the slang word 'Tom' to mean a prostitute, as used in the TV show 'The Bill' ?
The most logical I've heard is Cockney Rhyming Slang, 'Thomas More' = '***' but the person who told me that wasn't sure. I am actually a born & bred Londoner but had never heard this term before coming across it on 'The Bill' and even my Cockney grandfather, a Smithfield market porter for forty years, could not be sure!

Any help gratefully received!
Del
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Hello all, I hope that someone may be able to give me the definitive answer to this question: What is ... and even my Cockney grandfather, a Smithfield market porter for forty years, could not be sure! Any help gratefully received!

Cassell's Dictionary of Slang has seventeen separate entries for "tom" before it even gets around to the compounds and phrases. The one you want is:
tom, n.9 (1930s+) a prostitute , especially one
working in Mayfair (cf. EDIE). (abbr. US Underworld tommy, a girl / TOM n.6 / TOM-TART)
The last part in brackets is the etymology, but the slashes denote "alternates" so I can only take it that Cassell's is offering three possible theories. As usual, slang etymology is extremely difficult to trace.
The "Tom n.6" refered to is a 20th-c. Australian term for a woman, from:

"Tom-tart" late 19th-c. Australian term for a woman. Possibly rhyming to "sweetheart." I don't know if it had a more literal meaning.

(By the way, does Thomas More rhyme with ***, in England? I thought it was pronounced more like "Moore", but I don't remember why.)

Best Donna Richoux
Hello all, I hope that someone may be able to ... forty years, could not be sure! Any help gratefully received!

Cassell's Dictionary of Slang has seventeen separate entries for "tom" before it even gets around to the compounds and phrases. ... prostitute , especially one working in Mayfair (cf. EDIE). (abbr. US Underworld tommy, a girl / TOM n.6 / TOM-TART)

Many thanks!
The Mayfair explanation I had heard before but it doesn't seem to have any reasoning behind it.
(By the way, does Thomas More rhyme with ***, in England? I thought it was pronounced more like "Moore", but I don't remember why.)

It is pronounced 'Moore' but then Cockney Rhyming Slang isn't always an exact rhyme. For example 'iron hoof' = 'poof' but the 'oo' in 'hoof' is longer.
Del
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(By the way, does Thomas More rhyme with ***, in England? I thought it was pronounced more like "Moore", but I don't remember why.)

It is pronounced 'Moore' but then Cockney Rhyming Slang isn't always an exact rhyme.

Anyway, isn't "Moore" pronounced like "more" in cocknE? Ron speaks cocknE; ask Him.
Hello all, I hope that someone may be able to ... forty years, could not be sure! Any help gratefully received!

Cassell's Dictionary of Slang has seventeen separate entries for "tom" before it even gets around to the compounds and phrases. ... 19th-c. Australian term for a woman. Possibly rhyming to "sweetheart." I don't know if it had a more literal meaning.

Partridge has an explanation I find more convincing. "tom" as a verb meaning to have sex with someone is from the late 19th C and is short for "tomcat". A prostitute is one who goes "tomming" and is therefore a "tom".
(By the way, does Thomas More rhyme with ***, in England? I thought it was pronounced more like "Moore", but I don't remember why.)

People pronounce "More" both ways and they pronounce "***" both ways. Not the same people, of course, and not at the same time.
John Dean
Oxford
Hello all, I hope that someone may be able to give me the definitive answer to this question: What is ... even my Cockney grandfather, a Smithfield market porter for forty years, could not be sure! Any help gratefully received! Del

I've never ever heard this except in The Bill either (I'm not a Londoner but I'm from the South and lived in London for six years).

I've wondered if The Bill writers invented it to give a bit of unique argot to the Sun Hill nick...
DC DC
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Hello all, I hope that someone may be able to ... Smithfield market porter for forty years, could not be sure!

I've never ever heard this except in The Bill either (I'm not a Londoner but I'm from the South and ... I've wondered if The Bill writers invented it to give a bit of unique argot to the Sun Hill nick...

Nah. I was hearing it (as noun and verb) in Manchester in the 60s.
John Dean
Oxford
I've never ever heard this except in The Bill either ... a bit of unique argot to the Sun Hill nick...

Nah. I was hearing it (as noun and verb) in Manchester in the 60s.

How did the verb work John? 'She's off toming'? (not sure if that should be a double M).
DC
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