Sunday, May 3, 2009

STORYHEART SUNDAY UK BLOG - BOB'S YOUR UNCLE

"BOB'S YOUR UNCLE"

Bob's your uncle is a commonly used expression known mainly in Britain, Ireland and Commonwealth countries. It is often used immediately following a set of simple instructions and carries roughly the same meaning as the phrase "and there you have it".

As in...“You put the plug in here, press that switch, and Bob’s your uncle!”.

So who is Bob? Why Uncle Bob?

It's a catchphrase dating back to 1887, when British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury decided to appoint a certain Arthur Balfour to the prestigious and sensitive post of Chief Secretary for Ireland. Not lost on the British public was the fact that Lord Salisbury just happened to be better known to Arthur Balfour as "Uncle Bob". In the resulting furor over what was seen as an act of blatant nepotism, "Bob's your uncle" became a popular sarcastic comment applied to any situation where the outcome was preordained by favoritism. As the scandal faded from public memory, the phrase lost its edge and became just a synonym for "no problem".

Another theory, but less exciting, theory has it that it derives from the slang phrase all is bob, meaning that everything is safe, pleasant or satisfactory. This dates back to the seventeenth century or so (it’s in Captain Francis Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue of 1785). There have been several other slang expressions containing bob, some associated with thievery or gambling, and from the eighteenth century on it was also a common generic name for somebody you didn’t know.

"Bob's your uncle" is also a way of saying "you're all set", "you've got it made!" or "that's great!" and is used as an expression of jubilation at good fortune. It is used thus in the Alastair Sim film Scrooge, a version of the classic Dickens story A Christmas Carol, where a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge confronts his housekeeper, Mrs Dilber, on Christmas morning. He gives her a guinea (£1.05 in that era, and equivalent to about $100 today) as a Christmas present, and announces he will significantly raise her salary. In a burst of excitement the housekeeper responds, “Bob’s yer uncle! Merry Christmas, Mr Scrooge, in keeping with the situation!”

You can also find it's usage in a number of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, notably Guards! Guards!, use the phrase to confuse, as the characters in question often do not have uncles named "Bob" and Discworld people tend to take things literally.

Cockney's in East End of London I heard use it as "Bob's your Uncle, Tilly's a Trout" it's enough to know about Uncle Bob, I have no idea who Tilly is... Perhaps it's Bobs wife. I can't find information about that variation anywhere.





Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
Across the Pond
http://acrossthepond-storyheart.blogspot.com/
http://across-t-pond.com



OTHER BLOGS ABOUT GREAT BRITAIN:


THE GRAND NATIONAL

WHY UK DRIVES ON THE LEFT

MOTHERS DAY ACROSS THE POND

ABOUT THE UNION JACK

ENGLISHMANS VIEW ON BASEBALL

WHAT IS BOXING DAY

BRITISH TV TRANSPLANTS

WHO WAS SAINT GEORGE?

7 comments:

  1. Lovely post. Thank you so much for this blog. I really like the writing. It was very entertaining to read. I will be reading more!

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  2. And "Bob's Your Uncle" great post! Ha ha. Very funny. Reminds me of the way Bridget Jones would speak.

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  3. I love learning how certain phrases came to be. It's really interesting and gives a neat insight into the mindset of the country/people at the time of conception (so to speak).
    Margay

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  4. The funny thing is, I received an email from a person "across the pond" with a link to some photos. At the end, he wrote "just click on the link and bob's your uncle"

    Well, my hubby's name is Bob and I had NO IDEA what it meant but my yahoo mail highlighted it and that is how I got here! LOL

    Thanks... Now I know it wasn't meant for my hubby!

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