I unintentionally noticed that, in a TV sitcom series, the phrase "regular of bowel" was used. According to the translation subtitles, it means something like having a kind heart or willing to help. But a google search suggests nothing supportive. I thus would like to ask native English speakers the meaning and usage of this seemingly unusual phrase.


  • 3
    If your bowels are regular you are able to defecate normally. It sounds like it's being used as a joke there.
    – Robusto
    Dec 29 '18 at 1:55
  • 1
    Context is essential to understanding the intended meaning. Can you describe who the characters in that scene were and what they were talking about? Which episode of which sitcom was it?
    – choster
    Dec 29 '18 at 4:09
  • 2
    If your "bowels are regular", then it means that you defecate on a predictable and healthy schedule. I have never heard this phrase used to mean "willing to help." Dec 29 '18 at 5:29

In episode one, series one of "The Thin Blue Line", a 1995-1996 British sitcom set in a police station, one of the characters, Inspector Fowler, played by Rowan Atkinson, uses the expression in conversation. He is saying that his officers do not depend on computers to solve crimes because of their great skills. He says: "They are, in fact, first rate. Keen of eye, swift of thought and regular of bowel. They don't need computers to solve crimes because they have brains."

The addition of "regular of bowel" is a joke. A sudden descent from the lofty to the mundane, and from the relevant to the irrelevant. It is like saying "I admire my teacher. He has a fine analytical mind, he summarises arguments well, and keeps his ears free from wax". Also, toilets are ALWAYS funny. Atkinson often plays characters of the sarcastic sort, and the idea that being "regular" confers health and moral worth is an old-fashioned British belief of the type that is often mocked in modern times.

  • Way to ferret out the context!
    – Lorel C.
    Dec 30 '18 at 23:32
  • @Lorel C - there's this thing called Google. Dec 31 '18 at 9:15

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