Bob's your uncle


Bob's your uncle

Bob's your uncle is a commonly-used expression known mainly in Britain, Ireland and Commonwealth countries. It is often used immediately following a set of simple instructions and carries roughly the same meaning as the phrase "and there you have it"; for example, "Simply put a piece of ham between two slices of bread, and Bob's your uncle."

Etymology

In 1887, British Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, appointed his nephew Arthur James Balfour as Minister for Ireland. The press had a field day when he referred to the Prime Minister as "Uncle Bob". [ [http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/page1014.asp PM record breakers ] ] Balfour later went on to become Prime Minister himself.

This theory claims that to have "Bob" as one's uncle is a guarantee of success, hence the implied meaning, "and if you do this, you cannot fail." Use of the phrase is not recorded until 1937, however, and, although the "Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" suggests the phrase has been in use since the 1890s, [cite book|first = Eric |last = Partridge|title = Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English|date = 1937] there is no known example in print predating the entry. [cite web|url = http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/70100.html|title = Bob's your uncle|work = The Phrase Finder|last = Martin|first = Gary|publisher = Phrasefinder: Gary Martin|accessdate = 2008-07-08]

Another theory is that the phrase derives from the slang "all is bob", which means "everything is good". [ [http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bob1.htm World Wide Words: Bob’s your uncle ] ]

Usage

In some places in Britain, "Bob's your uncle" is also a way of saying "you're all set" or "you've got it made!" and is used as an expression of jubilation at good fortune. Hence it is used in the Alastair Sim film "Scrooge", a version of the classic Dickens’ story, "A Christmas Carol", where a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge confronts his housekeeper, Mrs. Dilber, on Christmas morning. He gives her a Guinea (£1.05 in that era, and equivalent to about $100 today) as a Christmas present, and announces he will significantly raise her salary. In a burst of excitement the housekeeper responds, “Bob’s yer uncle! Merry Christmas, Mr. Scrooge, in keeping with the situation!” [http://babyduckagreatcanadianwhine.blogspot.com/2004_12_01_archive.html quoting the UK newspaper, "The Guardian" from 23 December 1999]

Discworld

A number of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, notably "Guards! Guards!", use the phrase to confusion, as the characters in question often do not have uncles named "Bob" and Discworld is a literal society.

References


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Bob's your uncle — • This term may come from the Irish politician Balfour who in 1887 was unexpectedly promoted to the post of Chief Secretary for Ireland by his uncle Robert, Lord Salisbury. This stroke of nepotism is said to have inspired the term. The phrase is… …   Londonisms dictionary

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  • Bob's your uncle — This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like and that s it! For example if you are telling someone how to make that fabulous banoffee pie you just served them, you would tell them to boil the condensed milk for three …   The American's guide to speaking British

  • Bob's\ your\ uncle — Added to the end of sentences a bit like and that s it! You just pop the bread into the toaster, wait for it to pop up, take it out and put jam on it, and Bob s your uncle! …   Dictionary of american slang

  • Bob's\ your\ uncle — Added to the end of sentences a bit like and that s it! You just pop the bread into the toaster, wait for it to pop up, take it out and put jam on it, and Bob s your uncle! …   Dictionary of american slang

  • bob's your uncle — (UK)    This idiom means that something will be successful: Just tell him that I gave you his name and Bob s your uncle he ll help you.   (Dorking School Dictionary) …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions