Posted by Henry on June 09, 2004
In Reply to: Pocket Change posted by SR on June 09, 2004
: : : Hi can someone tell me the origin of the phrase
: : : Bits and Bobs and its meaning I can't find it anywhere.
: : : Thanks
: : From various uses I found it seems to means "a variety of this and that".
: : Seems to be a UK thing and is often spelled "bits and BOB'S"---notice the capitalized letters.
: : Maybe some of you Brits out there can fill us in.
: : I'm not a Brit, but it seems to me that "bits and bobs" refers to pocket change such as nickels and dimes or dimes and quarters. While growing up in Ireland, a "bit" was a coin, three-penny bit or six-penny bit, much like a nickle and a dime. A "bob" was a shilling or twelve pence, similar to a quarter. Twelve shillings made up a pound. I hope my guess is correct.
'Bits and bobs' has now lost its association with coins. Bits and bobs are useful, even necessary, things. Odds and ends are usually leftovers.
Bobs were shillings. Twelve pennies made a shilling, twenty shillings made a pound. Twenty one shillings made a guinea, still used in horse sales I believe. The One Thousand Guineas and Two Thousand Guineas are classic horse races.