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Last updated at 11:59 GMT, Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Every Tom Dick and Harry


Kaz invites Tom, Dick and Harry to the studio and introduces them to Yang Li. Who are they? And why does Kaz bring them to the studio? Find out more with Kaz and Yang Li.

Three cats, BBC image

Can Tom, Dick and Harry be these three cute cats?

The script for this programme

Kaz: Hello I'm Kaz.

Yang Li: And I'm Yang Li. Hey Kaz I see you have brought some guests to the studio.

Kaz: Indeed I have. Li I'd like you to meet Tom... Dick... and Harry.

TDH: How do you do?

Yang Li: How do you do. It's always nice to meet new people Kaz, but I suspect these young men are here for a reason. Am I right?

Kaz: Yes Li I've invited them because their names are Tom, Dick and Harry.

Yang Li: Tom, Dick and Harry. Three popular English names - connected to a popular phrase by any chance Kaz?

Kaz: Absolutely right Li. Our phrase today is 'every Tom, Dick and Harry'.

Yang Li: 'Every Tom, Dick and Harry' - meaning everyone with a common name I suppose.

Kaz: Yes, In English if you want to talk about lots of unspecified people you can use the phrase 'every Tom, Dick and Harry'.

Yang Li: So it's like saying 'everyone', right?

Kaz: That's right but it's more informal and slightly humorous.

Yang Li: OK, I think you should demonstrate its use Kaz.

Kaz: Good idea Li. Imagine I tell you something in confidence, in private... I could ask you not to repeat it.

Yang Li: Because we don't want everyone knowing about it.

Kaz: Exactly. We don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry knowing about it.

Yang Li: We don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry knowing our secret Kaz.

Kaz: You've got it Li!

Yang Li: OK, let's listen to some more examples:

  • Shhhhh! Lower your voice! We don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry to hear us.
  • Make sure you send out invitations, otherwise you'll have every Tom, Dick and Harry showing up at your party.
  • Whatever you do, don't tell Doug. He can't keep a secret and soon every Tom, Dick and Harry will know about it.

Yang Li: Those three names are interesting and each is a short form of a longer name. I know Tom is the diminutive of Thomas and Harry is short for Harold. But what's Dick short for?

Kaz: Dick is short for Richard.

Yang Li: Ah yes, of course, Dick is short for Richard. So what's Kaz short for?

Kaz: We don't need to know that Li.

Yang Li: Why not Kaz?

Kaz: Because we are very unlikely to ever say 'every Kaz, Dick and Harry'.

Yang Li: Very funny Kaz but it's time to say goodbye to our guests 'Tom, Dick and Harry'. So, goodbye chaps!

TDH: Goodbye!

Kaz: And it's goodbye from us.

Kaz/Yang Li: Bye!


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