Posted by Masakim on April 18, 2003
In Reply to: Phrase "How's your father?" posted by Michael on April 18, 2003
: We all know that "How's your father?" is a comical (if cliched) euphemism for sex. I am trying to find out where it originated.
: I have looked at many resources and asked lots of people but this particular phrase seems to fox everyone.
: Does anyone know please?
how's your father? catchphrase associated with the British music-hall comedian Harry Tate (1872-1940). Apparently, he would exclaim it as a way of changing the subject and in order to get out of a difficult situation. The phrase either subsequently or simultaneously took on a life of its own meaning the same as a 'thingummy' or anything the speaker did not wish to name. From that, in phrases like 'indulging in a spot of how's-your-father', it became a euphemism for sexual activity.
From Dictionary of Catchphrases by Nigel Rees
how's your father casual copulation.
A male expression, perhaps from an opening conversational gambit. Also used of unmarried pregnancy:
The girl was in the club, knocked up, a bun in the oven -- 'ow's yer father. [Gavin Lyall, _The Conduct of Major Maxim_, 1982]
Frequently as 'a bit of how's your father'.
From _A Dictionary of Euphemisms_ by R.W. Holder