Posted by Lewis on June 10, 2004
In Reply to: Pocket Change posted by Henry 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.
bits were small coins too - for example a three-penny bit - a coin worth 3 pennies was called a "thrupenny bit" and is Cockney rhyming slang for 'tit' (go on luv, show us yer thrupennies!).
bits were small coin and bob's - no capitals required - were shillings, as in 2 Bob or (if I remember properly) a 10 Bob note.
when I first had pocket money - I used to be given a thrupenny bit to buy a 'mystery bag' of sweets. back in the 1960s you could buy paper bags with an unknown assortment of small sweets.