Posted by Gary Martin on August 06, 2001
In Reply to: Family Jewels posted by Letterbomb on August 06, 2001
: What are all the common usages for this phrase?
In the UK it is used in two ways that I know of:
1. The hierlooms that a family, usually a wealthy family, owns. Aka 'the family silver'. These usually refer to items that are passed on from one generation to the next as a safeguard against hard times, and aren't meant to be cashed in ordinarily. Ex UK prime minister Harold Macmillan criticised Margaret Thatcher's government for 'selling off the family silver' when they privatised various public utilities in the 1980s.
2. The genitals of the man of the house. I can't give you a reference for that being used in public - certainly not by Harold Macmillan.