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Why I love red herrings, skeletons and taking the mickey | Dr Franz Andres Morrissey

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Striking, obscure or plain unintelligible, idioms are so much more than just the shiny ornaments on our everyday language

Perhaps I need to get out more, but it gratifies me to find out that Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Conservative prime minister, made his nephew Arthur Balfour chief secretary for Ireland. Such nepotism on the part of Uncle Robert, apart from raising eyebrows, also gave rise to the well-known saying.

We can only speculate whether Balfour’s succeeding him as prime minister in 1902 was seen as confirmation that things are indeed easy if “Bob’s your uncle”.

Related: Frankenwords: they're alive! But for how long?

I am told that I have a mind like a hoarder’s attic, full of useless clutter

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