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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A jobsworth is a person who uses his or her job description in a deliberately un-cooperative way, or who seemingly delights in acting in an obstructive or unhelpful manner. "Jobsworth" is an almost exclusively British term.

Jonathon Green (see Bibliography) defines "jobsworth" as "a minor factotum whose only status comes from enforcing otherwise petty regulations". The term comes from the phrase "I can't do that, it's more than my job's worth". Phrases such as "that's not my department", "that's not in my job description", and "that's not my job" roughly reflect the attitude of a person to whom the term applies.

One of the first recorded uses of the term appears to be in the 1965 Beatles movie Help! when the assistant scientist character Algernon (played by Roy Kinnear), 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".[1]

The term remains in use, particularly in the UK, to characterise inflexible employees, petty rule-following and excessive administration.[2] It has largely supplanted the older term, "Little Hitler"

It is sometimes claimed that many Wikipedia editors are "jobsworths"[3][4] with an inflexible attitude that "the rules are the rules are the rules...".


See also


  1. ^ BBC News: "Your job's worth more than you are".
  2. ^ 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."
  3. ^ Jobsworth Urban Dictionary
  4. ^ Jobsworth The Free Dictionary

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