Posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 03, 2005
In Reply to: "Box standard" or "box deluxe" posted by RRC on November 03, 2005
: : On a recent television quiz show (QI) an interesting common origin was proposed for two phrases - The famous Meccanno construction sets were originally sold in either "box standard" or "box deluxe". It was suggested that "Box standard" was corrupted to "Bog standard" and "Box deluxe" to "dogs bollocks".
: Searching eBay and a few sites of Meccano collectors, it seems that up until at least 1978, the various sized sets were numbered 0 through 10 with accessory packs 0A - 10A. Senior and Advanced have been used as modifiers as in "Advanced Metal Construction Set 5", but not Deluxe or Standard that I can find. Does anyone have evidence of there officially being a Standard or Deluxe set? RRC
Nobody is sure what the origin of "bog standard" is, and it is a plausible suggestion (but no more than that) it derives from people describing a piece or equipment as "box standard" - i.e. "just as it came out of the box with no modifications". But the idea that "box deluxe" is the origin of "dog's bollocks" is totally absurd.
Firstly, although you might plausibly sell something (whether Meccano or anything else) in a "standard box" or "deluxe box", nobody would sell a "box standard" or "box deluxe".
Secondly, the sounds in the phrase "box deluxe" are not likely to be corrupted to "dog's bollocks" - language just doesn't work that way.
Thirdly, the "dog's bollocks" is obviously a fanciful phrase along the lines of "the bee's knees", "the cat's whiskers", "the cat's pyjamas", and many others.
Moral: never believe phrase origins you hear proposed on television. (VSD)