Bob's your uncle

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...And Bob's your uncle is an expression of unknown origin, that means "and there it is" or "and there you have it." It is commonly used in Great Britain and Commonwealth countries. Typically, someone says it to conclude a set of simple instructions. The meaning is similar to that of the French expression "et voilà!"

"Bob's your uncle" is an exclamation that is used when "everything is all right" and the simple means of obtaining the successful result is explained. For example: "left over right; right over left, and Bob's your uncle – a reef knot." Sometimes the phrase is followed with "and Nellie's your aunt" or "and Fanny's your aunt." It is sometimes elaborately phrased Robert is your mother's brother or similar for comic effect.

Origin[edit]

A.J. Langguth and others have suggested that the expression arose after Conservative Prime Minister Robert "Bob" Cecil appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887, an act which was apparently both surprising and unpopular. In this sense, the expression also carried a hint of sarcastic envy or resentment, rather like "it's who you know, not what you know" that gets results, or "easy when you know how."

In any case, the meaning has become acknowledging, announcing, or explaining a result or outcome that is achieved more easily than might be imagined.[1][2]

In culture[edit]

Numerous works of arts, entertainment, and media either use the phrase as a title or include the use of the phrase. The following are examples.

  • Bob's Your Uncle (1942) is a British film.
  • Bob's Yer Uncle is a 1990s alternative rock band from Chicago, IL USA.
  • Bob's Your Uncle was a late-1980s alternative rock group from Canada.
  • Track 7 on Happy Mondays' album Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches (1990) is titled "Bob's Yer Uncle".
  • Walter Becker's album Circus Money includes a track titled "Bob Is Not Your Uncle Anymore."
  • In Mary Poppins, Bert uses the phrase to describe how quickly unusual things happen when in Mary's presence.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow says it when warning Barbossa about the Dauntless and its crew waiting outside of the Isla de Muerta.
  • In Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Leo Fitz uses the phrase after he explains how they tracked a Rising Tide Hacker in Season 1, Episode 5, "Girl in the Flower Dress"
  • In Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Phil Coulson uses the phrase to describe the ease of infiltrating Cybertek's headquarters in Season 1, Episode 22, "The Beginning of the End."
  • In Weeds, Doug uses the phrase to tell Nancy how quickly her money problems will disappear if she sets up a money laundering business front in order to hide her proceeds from dealing drugs in Season 1 Episode 2 "Free Goat".
  • In Flaked, Chip uses the phrase to tell Kara how easy it is to lock the door to his store in Season 1 Episode 1 "Westminster".
  • In Mr. Robot, Romero uses the phrase to tell Elliot how easy it will be to hack the climate control systems of Steel Mountain with the Raspberry Pi in Season 1 Episode 5 "eps1.4_3xpl0its.wmv".
  • In Homestuck, Caliope uses the phrase to explain Godtier to Dirk after which he questions its meaning.
  • In Hitchcock's Frenzy the fruit merchant turned necktie murderer, Robert Rusk (Barry Foster), uses the phrase several times while actually referring to himself. "Anytime, don't forget Bob's your uncle" and later again "I told you, Bob's your uncle". In those contexts the phrase didn't seem to mean "And voila--there you have it," like in most of this article. Rather, Rusk simply seems to be claiming a paternal--or avuncular--concern for, and offering aid to, his friend in trouble.
  • In 101 Dalmatians, Horace says it when Jasper tells him to grab a torch and we'll run them down.
  • In Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Diamond Dog says, 'and Robert's your father's brother, savvy?' after issuing detailed orders on the robbery his gang is about to commit.
  • In The Simpsons episode S11E15 "Missionary: Impossible" Homer : "I'll help with your next charity scam" Lovejoy: "The word is 'drive'" Homer: "Sure, sure, Bob's your uncle"
  • Bob's Your Uncle is the name of an early 1990s British prime time game show starring Bob Monkhouse.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Trahair, R. C. S. (1994). From Aristotelian to Reaganomics: A Dictionary of Eponyms With Biographies in the Social Science. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 72. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (2006). Knickers in a Twist: A Dictionary of British Slang. Canongate U.S. p. 65. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 

Further reading[edit]