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 United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. 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!"

"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]

Robert "Bob" Cecil

The origins are uncertain, but a common theory is 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. Whatever other qualifications Balfour might have had, "Bob's your uncle" was seen as the conclusive one.[1][2]

A more plausible explanation takes note of the full expression: "Bob's your uncle, Fanny's your aunt". As was common with coded Cockney language, such as the famous Cockney rhyming slang, a word (or a rhyming word) or phrase was paired with some associated word or phrase, and it was that second word or phrase that was used in speech. So, for example, the word "stairs" was rhymed with the word "pears", and the associating phrase "apples and pears" was then created. Drop the "pears", and "upstairs" or "up the stairs" became "up the apples". In the case of Bob and Fanny, the original word or expression was "nothing" or "nothing to it", expressed commonly by the vulgar classes as "fuck all" or "sweet fuck all". A Londoner from the East End, asked what money he had in the bank, might say "sweet Fanny Adams", and when easily finishing a job might say "Bob's your uncle". People in England, in fact, quite commonly use the whole expression: "Bob's your uncle, Fanny's your aunt", or some whimsical variant like "Bob's your uncle, Fanny's his sister".

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 says, "I'll help with your next charity scam;" Lovejoy: "The word is 'drive';" Homer: "Sure, sure, Bob's your uncle". Also in The Simpsons episode, "A Streetcar Named Marge" from season 4, Bart says "Bob's your uncle, mate!" while Marge, Lisa and Bart tear back and forth in southern and cockneyed English accents, respectively.
  • Bob's Your Uncle is the name of an early 1990s British prime time game show starring Bob Monkhouse.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards!, the phrase is used as a running gag throughout the novel.
  • In the animated show "Archer" in the season 2 episode "Double Deuce", Woodhouse's deceased Captain during WWII says, "Bob's your uncle!" when proposing to his crew to start a tontine.
  • In The 100 season three episode "Red Sky at Morning" and season four episode "The Chosen", Monty uses the phrase; and in season five episode "Damoclus" part 2 Raven says it.
  • In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, while suggesting a plan for the team, Benjy uses the phrase.

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. 

Further reading[edit]