OK, Mike ...
Here's a quote from one of your recent posts:
Apply a fresh coat of poly with a good quality brush and Bob's your uncle.
I've heard "Bob's your uncle" from a couple of my Canadian friends but none could explain the genesis of that expression. Can you enlighten me?
On Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 6:54:11 PM UTC-4, Gramps' shop wrote:
The reason none of your friends could explain the genesis is because it seems that no one really knows.
Googling the origin will mostly turn up this type of "we don't know" information...
Pfaugh. The source of that phrase is well known, it's a
reference to Robert Peel, a Prime Minister during Victoria's
reign in England. Peel was noted for his ability to find
cushy government jobs for friends and relatives, hence the
idea that having "Bob" as your uncle was a sure ticket to
Peel is also noteworthy for having created the London
Police force, hence the nicknames "bobbies" or "peelers"
for the police in the UK.
On Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 9:03:02 PM UTC-4, John McCoy wrote:
Are you sure you aren't referring to Robert Cecil, AKA Lord Salisbury, who
appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour to a few different political posts?
I don't really have an opinion either way, but the site I linked to (as wel
l as many others) states that there seems to be some "date related" issues
with associating the origin of the phrase with Robert Cecil.
A couple of excerpts, which I in no way assert to be correct...
Stolen without permission from:
"The link here between an uncle Bob who was Prime Minister and a 'Bob's you
r uncle' passport to a cushy life is easy to make. The fact that the word '
nepotism' derives from 'nephew' makes the link seem all the more neat. Such
neatness is often the mark of a back-formation, that is, an explanation th
at is made up after the event."
"The difficulty with the first two suggested origins is the date. The phras
e itself isn't recorded until the 1920s. It would seem odd for a phrase to
be coined about the nepotism of an uncle for his nephew well after both Pri
me Ministers were out of office."
The following site also questions the Robert Cecil connection...
Stolen without permission from:
"This is a catchphrase which seemed to arise out of nowhere and yet has had
a long period of fashion and is still going strong.
The most attractive theory -- albeit suspiciously neat -- is that it derive
s from a prolonged act of political nepotism.
There is another big problem: the phrase isn't recorded until 1937, in Eric
Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Mr Partridge s
uggested it had been in use since the 1890s, but nobody has found an exampl
e in print. This is surprising. If public indignation or cynicism against L
ord Salisbury's actions had been great enough to provoke creation of the sa
ying, why didn't it appear -- to take a case -- in a satirical magazine of
the time such as Punch?"
Although the date of the supposed first appearance in print differs between
the 2 sites (1920's vs. 1937), they both state that that seems a little la
te for the phrase to have first appeared in print. (To be fair, some sites
suggest that the phrase started back in 1887, but there doesn't seem to be
any documented proof of that)
While I'll agree that the Lord Salibury/Arthur Balfour theory is the most c
ommon (and certainly the neatest), the fact that so many different websites
question the connection raises some legitimate doubts.
Well, I've always heard it attributed to Peel, who was
obviously known as "Bob" (hence bobbies for police).
But you make a good point, especially since there don't
seem to be known examples in print before the 20's.
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