quicker than you can say 'Indiana Jones'

214973

New Member
chinese
I saw this expression in script of Notting Hill as below:

WILLIAM
I think you have forgotten...(he looks at them) what an unusual situation you have here -- to find someone you actually love, who'll love you -- the chances are... always miniscule. Look at me -- not counting the American -- I've only loved two girls in my whole life, both total disasters.

MAX
That's not fair.

WILLIAM
No really, one of them marries me and then leaves me quicker than you can say Indiana Jones -- and the other, who seriously ought to have known better, casually marries my best friend.

<< Excessive quotation deleted. >>
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    The usual expression is "quicker/faster than you can say Jack Robinson" -- and since you can say "Jack Robinson" very quickly, the phrase means "almost immediately."

    In this case, another name has simply been substituted for Jack Robinson.

    From Wikipedia: Jack Robinson (mythical person)
    Jack Robinson is a name present in a common figure of speech used to indicate a period of time, typically in a sarcastic manner. The normal usage is, "(something is done) faster than you can say Jack Robinson" or otherwise "before you can say Jack Robinson." The phrase can be traced back to the 1700s.
     

    214973

    New Member
    chinese
    Thank you two so much! So these two fictional men change heart very soon for women, and people use their names to indicate something changing very fast, right?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    No, I think you've missed the point. William says he got married and his wife left him almost immediately -- it's the women who change their minds, not the men.

    And we're not using people names to indicate something fast, but the entire expression: faster than you can say Jack Robinson. It means "almost immediately" because it doesn't take long to say two words -- Jack Robinson. And because it's well-known, you can play with it by substituting other words for "Jack Robinson": faster than you can say lickety-split. faster than you can say "How stupid am I?" Etc.

    The idea is that an event happened in the blink of an eye -- in the small amount of time it takes to say something.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I agree with Copyright. It's to do with saying 'Jack Robinson'. I'm not quite sure why that has been substituted with Indiana Jones.

    I also wanted to add that you also hear 'Before you can say Jack Robinson' to mean the same thing.
     

    conduit_girl

    Senior Member
    English- United States
    Well yes of course it has the same meaning as the original phrase, but it is not a random substitution - he is comparing his wife to Indiana Jones.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I tend to agree with conduit_girl.
    There is added and somewhat self-deprecating humor in the role reversal: his wife is Indiana Jones; he is the jilted fiancé.
     

    english learner3

    New Member
    Korean
    I'm studying English with the script of Notting Hill. I was looking for the meaning of "faster than you can say 'Indiana Jones' and I found your replies.
    The reason why William uses 'Indiana Jones' instead of 'Jack Robinson' is because his wife ran away with a man who looks like 'Harrison Ford'.
    At the beginning of the movie, he said "she left me for a man who looked exactly like Harrison Ford..."
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thank you, english learner3! Mystery solved. And welcome to the Forum and hope to see more of you around here.
     
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