Bob’s your uncle

Example in use: “They reset my password, told me to log in again and Bob’s your uncle, I was back in the system and working again!”

Meaning: A simple explanation has been given, and now everything has now been successfully concluded – it’s as simple as that!

Possible German equivalent: Und fertig is der Lack.

Possible origin: This is a typically British or Commonwealth expression but there is no agreement on the original source of the expression. There are a few theories, the most popular of which is related to the Victorian Prime Minister Lord Robert Cecil Salisbury who gave several ministerial jobs to his nephew, Arthur Balfour. Arthur was considered very unsuitable and was quite unpopular. The most controversial position he received was Chief Secretary of Ireland, which in 1887 was one of the most important jobs in government. There was a lot of talk about the fact that the nephew had not earned the jobs and had just received them from his uncle, Bob (short form of Robert) – a clear case of nepotism. The story continues that the feeling was that as long as you had an uncle Bob, then anything was possible and success was more than likely. Hence “Bob’s your uncle” came to mean an easy result.

While this is a popular theory for the origin, there is no printed record of the phrase until 1937 which feels like a long time after the Lord Salisbury incident. Other theories include a music hall performance in Scotland in the 1920s, or even a reference to the creation of the Metropolitan Police Force by Sir Robert Peel giving the slang name to police on the streets of “Bobbies”.

Wherever if comes from, while “Bob’s your uncle” is still frequently used in English, you will also often hear the expression “and voila!” to express the same simple conclusion exclamation!

uncle / ˈʌŋ.kl̩


Welcome again to our weekly series that hopes to go behind the scenes of some rather typical English expressions.