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Heath Robinson

Posted by James Briggs on June 04, 2003

Some of you know that I have a collection of phrase origins called 'The Bedtime Browser'. I get regular requests and messages about phrase origins - two today, of which one came from a reporter with Esquire magazine in New York.
The other author was intrigued why I hadn't included the phrase 'It's a bit of a Heath Robinson' in my list (for those of you who are unfamiliar with this phrase, it's well known in British English and means a situation of apparent muddle, mess, over complication etc). It is named after a famous English cartoonist whose work was characterised by drawings of pieces of equipment, often very over-elaborate, designed to perform apparently simple/unnecessary tasks.
The author supplied a link to many of the Heath Robinson drawings - a wonderful site and well worth a visit. I thought you all would like to know of it and so I've posted this message. Other parts of the site are also worth a look.
Is the expression known elsewhere in the English speaking world?
The link is below