What does Wotcher mean?
Wotcher refers to an archaic British slang expression, used for greeting.
A notable occurrence of “Wotcher” can be linked to the 5th Volume of the Harry Potter series: The Order of the Phoenix, where the protagonist is greeted with the slang term at some point in the book.
It may also be encountered with the spelling “Wotcha”.
What's the origin of Wotcher?
The expression has been appearing in its current form since the mid-1800’s, said to originate from the Northern London area, famous for its Cockney accent.
There are several strong claims as to the etymologies of “Wotcher” with the most popular being the contraction of the phrase “What cheer”, which would explain the way it is used as a greeting between friends.
The other explanation claims that “Wotcher” is the shortened form of the phrase “What you” used in the stead of “What do you”, “What have you” etc. used in questions such as “Wotcher think?”, or “Wotcher been up to?”.
The slang expression was further popularized by the British Music Hall comedy song “Wot Cher! Knocked ‘em in the Old Kent Road”, the lyrics of which were compiled of Cockney rhyming slang and popular idioms.
Spread & Usage
How did Wotcher spread?
“Wotcher” has been popular in the United Kingdom during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, although following World War 2, its presence has shriveled until the turn of the millennium.
Its popularity started rising in the 1990’s, and with its appearance in J.K. Rowling’s novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2005, it became known and recognized worldwide.
The first Urban Dictionary entry on the topic was uploaded in 2003.
Due to the premiere of the Harry Potter book’s movie adaptation, the popularity of the term spiked on Google once again.
During the subsequent years, it would be the topic of YouTube videos and Reddit threads, explaining its meaning and debating whether its use was appropriate in the Harry Potter novel.