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Posted by Brian from Shawnee on July 24, 2007

In Reply to: Herbert posted by ChrisA on July 24, 2007

: : What is meant when somebody is described as "A(n) Herbert"? or "A bit of a(n) Herbert"?

: : I understand that it's not as commonly used nowadays.

: It means an ineffectual person; a bit of a fool. You're right to say it's not used so commonly these days. I'm not sure it ever was that common outside SE England. I once knew a man called Herbert Wright who, of course, had to enter his name on official forms as Wright, Herbert. He said nobody remarked on it until he began working with Londoners.

: Does anyone know the derivation?

: ChrisA (there seems to be another Chris so, as I'm fairly new, I'll use ChrisA from now on)

There was a Star Trek (original series, 1969) episode called The Way to Eden that featured space hippies who called Captain Kirk "Herbert", which meant "a square". Supposedly the name came from a petty official on their planet who was overly concerned with minor details. Don't know if there's any connection to the usage in the southeast of England.