Out on a Limb
Bogey – Bogey is a term that today is usually only heard in the air force or on a golf course. Up in the wild, blue yonder it is a reference to an unidentified aircraft that is presumed hostile.
On the links, a bogey is a score of one over par on a particular hole. This term was invented in 1890 by Major Wellman at the Great Yarmouth Golf Club. He was playing using the scratch value of each hole (the number of strokes deemed appropriate to complete the hole). Having difficulty beating the scratch score, he claimed that he was playing against a bogey-man. In American usage, bogey came to mean one over par.
So both of the above are usages representing phantoms, whether they be phantom planes or phantom players.
Bear Market – This stock market term appeared in the early 18th century. Bear was first recorded in 1709 and originally referred to the practice of selling stock one does not yet own for delivery at a future date with the expectation the price would fall in the meantime, enabling the speculator to buy the stock at a lower price and make a profit (called “short selling” now).
Such investors were called bear-skin jobbers after the phrase sell the bear’s skin before one has caught the bear. Gradually, the term took on the meaning of being generally pessimistic about stock prices.
Bob’s Your Uncle – This British catch-phrase, meaning all will be well or all will be take care of dates from the 1890’s (busy year for “B” terms). Popular etymology says it derives from a particular act of nepotism in the British government. Robert Lord Salisbury (left), the Prime Minister, appointed Arthur Balfour (right), his nephew, to the post of Secretary for Ireland in 1887. Balfour was, at the time, considered young and a political lightweight, and the post was a high-profile, political plum currently embroiled in the question of Irish independence. Aside from the dates, there is no evidence, either way, to link the act with the origin of the phrase, although there is some suggestion that Balfour referred to Lord Salisbury as “Uncle Bob” in a conversation, thus leading to the coining of the phrase.