a few bob

jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
‘Okay, so let’s imagine I’m Ray and I want somewhere to stash some cash for my wedding. I’m not too keen on banks, but they should give me a few bob in interest at least.’
‘Yes, and these days a few bob is probably all you will get! Since your wedding is coming up, you might need to get your hands on some readies at short notice.
Source: Fourth Friend by Joy Ellis

I gathered through perusing other threads a few bob is a British informal for some money, literally a few shillings. The further question I have is why you say a few bob and not a few ‘bobs’. It seems that bob is an accountable noun.


Thank you.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    That was the idiom; we said either "a few shillings" or "a few bob". Similarly: "two bob, five bob..."

    Since decimalisation of the currency (15 Feb 1971) these terms are no longer in use.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Since decimalisation of the currency (15 Feb 1971) these terms are no longer in use.
    Hmmm. I don’t entirely agree with this.

    I find that the phrase “a few bob” IS still in use. Shillings are not the actual currency anymore but (older) people still use the phrase to indicate an unspecified amount of money:
    E.g.
    Can you lend us a few bob?
    That’ll cost a few bob.
    He made a few bob on that deal.

    Perhaps it’s just my family who say these things. :D
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    You're quite right, Suzi. I was thinking about the advisability of Jacdac using it.
    Indeed. I agree it would sound odd coming from someone who wasn’t brought up here in those olden days.

    I just tested my theory about “my family” on my wife. She says she never says it. But she also agreed: “you do say it” My wife says “a bit of cash” in circumstances where I still say “a few bob”.

    (She was a little kid in 1971. I was in secondary school - maybe that makes a difference).
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. I surmise bob is a mass noun - a categorisation terminology I grasped today.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    I surmise bob is a mass noun
    No. You can't put a mass noun in the context "A few __" (a few water?—no).
    Classify "bob" with those animal nouns that don't change in the plural: "a few sheep", "a few fish", ...
     
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