How's yer father?

Posted by ESC on November 01, 2004

In Reply to: How's yer father? posted by Lewis on November 01, 2004

: : Hi,

: : Could anyone please tell me the origin of 'How's yer father? I understand it's British for 'sex'?
: : Thanks in advance,
: : Torsten

: This is well-established in use, but I think it goes back to the tendency of young couples snatching a moment of lust to leap apart when interrupted and pretend to be talking - in such a scenario the boy asking "...and how is your father?" would be entirely appropriate. I think a music-hall act popularised the particular expression used.

From the archives:

how's your father? catchphrase associated with the British music-hall comedian Harry Tate (1872-1940). Apparently, he would exclaim it as a way of changing the subject and in order to get out of a difficult situation. The phrase either subsequently or simultaneously took on a life of its own meaning the same as a 'thingummy' or anything the speaker did not wish to name. From that, in phrases like 'indulging in a spot of how's-your-father', it became a euphemism for sexual activity.
From _Dictionary of Catchphrases_ by Nigel Rees
how's your father casual copulation.
A male expression, perhaps from an opening conversational gambit. Also used of unmarried pregnancy:
The girl was in the club, knocked up, a bun in the oven -- 'ow's yer father. [Gavin Lyall, _The Conduct of Major Maxim_, 1982]
Frequently as 'a bit of how's your father'.
From _A Dictionary of Euphemisms_ by R.W. Holder