[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Bob's your uncle
Dear List Members: Not be to beat this to death, but a librarian friend to
whom I mentioned this discussion found rhis website and this theory. Those
interested in this topic might want to check out the site for other
Their theory: This is another of those catchphrases which seem to arise
out of nowhere and have a period of fashion, in this case quite a long one.
We know that it began to be used in the 1880s in Britain. One theory has it
that it derives from the slang phrase all is bob, meaning "all is safe".
But there have been several slang expressions containing the word bob, some
thievery or gambling, and around this time it was also a common generic
name for somebody you didn't know. The most attractive theory is that it
derives from a prolonged act of political nepotism. The prime minister Lord
Salisbury (family name Robert Cecil, pronounced //) appointed his rather
less than popular nephew Arthur Balfour (later himself to be PM from
1902-11) to a succession of posts. The first in 1887 was chief secretary of
Ireland, a post for which Balfour was considered unsuitable. The consensus
among the irreverent in Britain seems to have been that to have Bob as your
uncle guaranteed success, hence the expression and the common meaning it
preserves of something that is easy to achieve.
[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, email@example.com
[ To get off or on the list, see http://sinclair.quarterman.org/list.html