Bob's your uncle!

Posted by Gary on November 13, 2003

In Reply to: Bob's your uncle! posted by ESC on November 13, 2003

: : : Bob' Your Uncle

: : : I heard was a british saying saying you will be lucky have a policeman as an uncle

: : : a bobby is british for policeman

: : Not quite. Bobby, and also peeler incidentally, come from Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the Metropolitan Police. The 'Bob's your uncle' expression originates from A. J. Balfour's promotion to Chief Secretary for Ireland by his uncle (Robert) Lord Salisbury.

: BOB'S YOUR UNCLE! - informal. Similar to "there you are! that's it! voila!.An expression used at the end of instructions such as road directions, recipes and the like.One explanation of this curious phrase is its alleged use in Robert Peel's campaign for a seat in Parliament. He was a 'law and order' man nicknamed Bob and 'uncle' was a term implying benefaction and protection: Vote for Bob - Bob's your Uncle! Maybe. 'Uncle' is British (as well as American) slang for 'pawnbroker,' and a pawnbroker is, presumably, a friend in need. Another educated guess at its derivation relates to the appointment in 1887 of Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary for Ireland by the then Prime Minister Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury, who happened to be Balfour's uncle. This obvious act of nepotism was decried by many. The saying then went (if this derivation can be believed): You ask for the job - he remembers your name - and 'Bob's your uncle!'." From British English: A to Zed by Norman W. Schur (Harper Perennial, New York, 1987).

Maybe Schur didn't get over to London very often. The Balfour/Salisbury origin is a bit more than an educated guess. It's widely accepted in etymological circles and is given in most reference works, not least the Oxford Press:

"(and) BOB's your uncle" The Oxford Dictionary of Idioms. Ed. Jennifer Speake. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. 13 November 2003