adj useless junk. While quite recent slang, it’s rather charming: Did your grandmother leave you anything good? / Nope, just a complete load of ancient bobbins. One possible etymology: that it’s from the north of England (particularly the Lancashire and Manchester areas), which used to be supported largely by cotton mills. As the industrial revolution drew to a close, the mills closed down and the population found itself with a surfeit of largely worthless milling machinery. During that time the phrase “‘twas worth nout but bobbins” sprung up; years later we’re left only with the last word.

In categories

Everyday Speech

Related words

blinking, Bob’s your uncle, bodge, bog standard

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