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Bob's your uncle

Posted by R. Berg on March 19, 2003

In Reply to: Bob's your uncle posted by JB on March 19, 2003

: I was wondering if anyone knew the origins of the usual British amendment to this saying. "Bob's your uncle" is listed already, but nowadays, the British don't actually say that.. the phrase used most often instead is "Bob's your uncle, Fanny's your aunt."

: I am aware too that the word "Fanny" is Brit-speak for a woman's vagina, so I have been really quite perplexed about how this phrase came about.

: Just a humorous aside, a few years ago, the famous tennis star John McEnroe made quite a blunder on nationwide British television. He was one of two commenting on the Wimbledon tennis matches, and this particular day, there'd been several rain delays. John was asked the question by his fellow commentor of what might he say to encourage the spectators to more quickly return to their seats so that play could resume. He said (paraphasing from memory) "Hey people, get your fannies back in your seats." Fortunately his quick thinking partner jumped in to say that he thought that John was referring to "bottoms" instead. John did a quick quizzical look, agreed, and then moved off camera to have it explained, and returned with quite a sheepish look on his face. :-)

: Any comments would be appreciated.

Eric Partridge (Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day) mentions the addition "and Fanny's your aunt," citing an informant who said in 1976 that it came simply from "an association with 'fanny,' the female pudend, esp. among raffish adolescent males." The only slang meaning of "fanny" I know of in US use is the buttocks. That's also the only meaning in the Dict. of Amer. Slang, 1960 ed.

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