Bob's your uncle

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"Bob's your uncle" is a phrase commonly used in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries that means "and there it is" or "and there you have it" or "It's done". Typically, someone says it to conclude a set of simple instructions or when a result is reached. The meaning is similar to that of the French expression "et voilà!" or the American "easy as pie" or "piece of cake".

Synonyms & variations on the theme (English UK Slang)[edit]

Expressions of self satisfaction or pride or delight at the end of a sentence describing an action, a situation, an instruction or direction, especially when it seems easier or quicker than expected:

  • The long version Bob's Your Uncle and Fanny's your Aunt meaning "And there you are" or "It's that easy!" or "(After that) it's done!" or "(After that,) you have achieved what wanted to achieve"
  • This longer version may have been shorten to Bob's your uncle as Fanny has taken a sexual meaning (21st century) since the expression was coined (1887). An example is the writer Enid Blyton who used names in her 1940's children books such as Dick & Fanny which could not be used nowadays because of their sexual connotation.

Expressions with a stronger emphasis on easiness or delight:

Expressions with a stronger emphasis on self satisfaction or pride of achievement or just delight:

  • Job done something you say when someone has achieved something, especially when it seems easier or quicker than you expected:
  • Job's a good'un similar slang meaning "and there you go" or "it's done with!" or "It's finished with" or "It is completed to everyone satisfaction"
  • Lovely jubbly Made famous by 'Del Boy' the main character from long running English sitcom Only Fools And Horses Lovely Jubbly refers to "Lovely Job" or "Great" or "Good news" or "It is completed to everyone's satisfaction or profit".
  • It's in the bag meaning "Job done" or "and there you go" or "Great Job!" or "it's all yours!" or "It's completed to your own benefit!"
  • Back of the net literally meaning "Goal" or "Success!" but really it means "Great" or "Victory at last" or "Result!" or "It's completed to your own satisfaction!"

Origin[edit]

Robert "Bob" Cecil

The origins are uncertain, but a common theory is that the expression arose after Conservative Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury ("Bob") appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887, an act of nepotism, which was apparently both surprising and unpopular. Whatever other qualifications Balfour might have had, "Bob's your uncle" was seen as the conclusive one.[1][2]

The main weakness in this theory is that the first documented usage of ‘Bob’s Yer Uncle’ is in the title of a revue at the Victoria Theatre, Dundee, in June 1924. If Salisbury’s notorious nepotism toward Balfour in the 1880s had been so widely spoken of to inspire a popular phrase, it is perhaps unlikely that it would have taken nearly forty years for it to appear in print for the first time.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Langguth, A. J. (1981). Saki: Life of Hector Hugh Munro.
  2. ^ Hendrickson, Robert (2008). The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins. Facts On File. ISBN 9780816069668.
  3. ^ Quinion, Michael (19 October 2015). "Bob's your uncle". World Wide Words. Retrieved 21 October 2020.}

Further reading[edit]