phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by Psi on March 18, 2002

In Reply to: Phrase posted by Mouche on March 16, 2002

: Somebody please help me.....I'm going crazy.

: I keep hearing " Bob's your uncle." in movies
: and on television. I was really beginning to
: think I was hearing things. Finally someone
: else was with me when I heard it again. They
: didn't know what it meant either.

: I have asked everyone I know.

It's a common enough expression in the UK.

From World Wide Words:

This is another of those catchphrases which seem to arise out of nowhere and have a period of fashion, in this case quite a long one. We know that it began to be used in the 1880s in Britain. One theory has it that it derives from the slang phrase all is bob, meaning "all is safe". But there have been several slang expressions containing the word bob, some associated with thievery or gambling, and around this time it was also a common generic name for somebody you didn't know. The most attractive theory is that it derives from a prolonged act of political nepotism. The prime minister Lord Salisbury (family name Robert Cecil,) appointed his rather less than popular nephew Arthur Balfour (later himself to be PM from 1902-11) to a succession of posts. The first in 1887 was chief secretary of Ireland, a post for which Balfour was considered unsuitable. The consensus among the irreverent in Britain seems to have been that to have Bob as your uncle guaranteed success, hence the expression and the common meaning it preserves of something that is easy to achieve.


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