World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Jobsworth

Article Id: WHEBN0000858391
Reproduction Date:

Title: Jobsworth  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Reference desk/Archives/Language/2015 June 2, Apparatchik, That's Life!, Motorola MicroTAC, Jeremy Taylor (singer)
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Jobsworth

A jobsworth is a person who uses their job description in a deliberately uncooperative way, or who seemingly delights in acting in an obstructive or unhelpful manner.

"Jobsworth" is a British colloquial[1][2] word derived from the phrase "I can't do that, it's more than my job's worth", meaning it might lose the person their job: taking the initiative and performing an action, and perhaps in the process breaking a rule, is beyond what the person feels their job description allows. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "A person in authority (esp. a minor official) who insists on adhering to rules and regulations or bureaucratic procedures even at the expense of common sense."[1] Jonathon Green similarly defines "jobsworth" as "a minor factotum whose only status comes from enforcing otherwise petty regulations".[3]

An example of the phrase which gave rise to the term occurs in the 1965 Beatles movie Help!, when Roy Kinnear's character, the assistant scientist Algernon, exclaims "Well it's more than my job's worth to stop him when he's like this, he's out to rule the world...if he can get a government grant."

Another early use was by UK folk-singer Jeremy Taylor, in a song he wrote in the late 1960s:

Jobsworth, Jobsworth, It's more than me job's worth,
I don't care, rain or snow,
whatever you want the answer's no,
I can keep you waiting for hours in the queue,
and if you don't like it you know what you can do.

The term became widespread in vernacular English through its use in the popular 1970s BBC television programme That's Life! which featured Esther Rantzen covering various human interest and consumer topics. A "Jobsworth of the Week" commissionaire's hat was awarded each week to "a startling tale of going by the book".[4]

The term remains in use, particularly in the UK, to characterise inflexible employees, petty rule-following and excessive administration.[5]

The slang expression Little Hitler is also much in use in Britain with about the same meaning.[6][7][8]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press
  2. ^ "jobsworth – definition". Macmillan Dictionary.  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ BBC News: "Your job's worth more than you are".
  5. ^ House of Commons Hansard Debates for 1 May 1996 (pt 10) "There seems to be here an element of what might qualify for Esther Rantzen's "jobsworth" award. I would certainly like to look at it more closely. I will therefore follow up the matters that my hon. Friend has raised today, and I hope to be able to write to him in due course."
  6. ^ "A bossy 'little Hitler’ is still making waves 80 years on", The Telegraph
  7. ^ "Bus driver conducted himself like a little Hitler, claims angry pensioner", Bristol Post
  8. ^ "Police dog trainer was a 'fat little Hitler' ", BBC
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.