"Bob's your uncle" revisited

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sun Jan 27 20:07:33 UTC 2002

  As I mentioned in an earlier message today, I've been working
through the ads-l messages on "Bob's your uncle" (= everything's all
right).And I now have a general observation:
If (as seems plausible) the expression derives from the 1887 nepotism
of Alfred Balfour being appointed as chief secretary of Ireland by
his 'Uncle Bob' (Prime Minister Robert Cecil), and if this
unwarranted appointment stirred an uproar, do any contemporary
accounts record instances of the dissatisfaction?

    So even though the ads-l messages may be compiled (a useful step),
there's evidently some further checking waiting to be done.

  ---Gerald Cohen

P.S. Here is a helpful excerpt from Michael Quinion's World Wide
Words (first presented to ads-l by Lynne Murphy):
>'...The most attractive theory is that it derives from a prolonged
>act of political nepotism. The prime minister Lord Salisbury (family
>name Robert Cecil, pronounced /'SISIL/) appointed his rather less
>than popular nephew Arthur Balfour (later himself to be PM from
>1902-11) to a succession of posts. The first in 1887 was chief
>secretary of Ireland, a post for which Balfour was considered
>unsuitable. The consensus among the irreverent in Britain seems to
>have been that to have Bob as your uncle guaranteed success, hence
>the expression and the common meaning it preserves of something that
>is easy to achieve.'

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