Robert “Bob” Cecil, former British Prime Minister.

Actually, Bob isn’t my uncle. My three uncles’ names were Ben, Lou, and Hymie. But this isn’t about family. It is about a delightful, often-used expression across the pond in Great Britain.


Watching as many British detective shows as I do, and for so many years, I find that many colloquialisms and slang terms have unconsciously slipped into my vocabulary. One of my favorites is “Bob’s your uncle,” which initially I had no idea what it meant. But after hearing it so often, I realized that it was putting closure on a statement, or on some kind  of instructions, or directions.

To simplify, it’s the equivalent of saying, “and there you have it,” or “and there it is,” or even “piece of cake!” For example, “You turn right at the next intersection, go two blocks and turn left, park about a hundred yards down, and Bob’s your uncle.” It is also similar to the familiar French version, “voilà!”


This is not carved in stone, but the most common theory has to do with England’s Conservative Prime Minister, Robert-Gascoyne Cecil, who many called “Bob.” In 1887 he appointed his nephew, Arthur Balfour, as Chief Secretary for Ireland. This unpopular act of nepotism led to folks derisively noting Balfour’s lack of qualifications for the post as, “Bob’s your uncle.” Over time the expression evolved to have a less sarcastic meaning.

Early usage of “Bob’s Your Uncle,” 1924.

My bride and I continue to learn the numerous British expressions, charming and otherwise, that we hear on our murder mysteries. But we don’t get bent out of shape if we can’t immediately understand them. After all, we would not want to get nicked for a GBH, would we? 😊

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