a few bob

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jacdac, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. jacdac

    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.
     
  2. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    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.
     
  3. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English
    Similarly, the word ‘quid’ (slang for pound) doesn’t have an s on the end: a few quid, five quid,etc
     
  4. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Cheshire
    English / England
    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
     
  5. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    You're quite right, Suzi. I was thinking about the advisability of Jacdac using it.
     
  6. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Cheshire
    English / England
    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).
     
  7. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    That's true, but you can be "quids in" on a deal.
     
  8. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English
    Ah yes, so we do! Forgotten that.

    Back to “a few bob”, I say it and I was born post D-Day (i.e. the other D-Day, Decimal Day), but I suspect I’m a bit of a rarity among my age group.
     
  9. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    Another set bob-based expression is 'a bob or two'.

    As in 'I bet that cost a bob or two.'
     
  10. jacdac

    jacdac Senior Member

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

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    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", ...
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  12. london calling Senior Member

    SALERNO, ITALY
    UK ENGLISH
    No, mine does too.:) Totally threw my son, who's bilingual but not familiar with old UK money. He'd never heard it from me, living as I do in the Eurozone.

    Jacdac:

    a few bob
    bob = unit of currency
     

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