Heath Robinson

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - Heath Robinson

"Heath Robinson"

used to describe a machine or system that is very complicated in a way that is funny, but not practical or effective


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - Heath Robinson

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1:  I know that I am new to this job but the flow of paperwork is a little bizarre. First you send your purchase requests down a tube to the routing department in the basement? They make copies and interns on roller-skates deliver the requests to three different departments. After that, each department clips the requests to a clothesline and wheels them across the alley to the next building.

Colleague 2:  It does seem a little Heath Robinson, doesn't it?

Colleague 1:  Very convoluted. I suppose it gets the job done but wouldn't a computer system work better?

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - Heath Robinson

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1:  What the heck is that contraption?

Friend 2:  It is a machine to remove the core from an apple.

Friend 1:  Seems a little Heath Robinson. Why not just use an apple corer?

Heath Robinson - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   105   click for frequency by country

Heath Robinson - Gerund Form:

There is no gerund form for Heath Robinson.

Heath Robinson - Examples:


2)  The scaffolding Jim built around the pole looked like one of Heath Robinson's inventions. 

3)  ... that we realised that they evidently had no bosun's chair on board; Heath Robinson techniques had been required.

4)  ... has created are as bizarre as they are brilliant. Many of his machines are Heath Robinson devices, in that they perform simple tasks in a convoluted and complex fashion.

5)  " ... Meccano and ingenuity to adapt it," says Alice. "He did it Heath Robinson style."

6)  There was a time when bamboozling, madcap inventions and contraptions were the reserve of Heath Robinson as the English eccentric devised a series of elaborate, steam-driven absurdities for performing ...

7)  ... engineering degree were a necessary prerequisite for making mobiles that are, technologically speaking, Heath Robinson.

8)  They worked with Heath Robinson bits of equipment, and they produced marvelous photos.

9)  It's a very complex, quite messy, homemade Heath Robinson affair, so what's happening is scarily complicated.

10)  Known as the 'Gadget King' Heath Robinson is best remembered for his drawings of farcically complicated machines which achieved very simple ...

11)  There's something a bit eccentric, a bit Heath Robinson about balloonists that has always appealed. 

12)  ... need to multi-task and multi-purpose; everything that we do and consume a kind of Heath Robinson contraption with a whole range of elements and outcomes.

13)  ... the private sector to step up to the plate and support his pathetically inadequate, Heath Robinson style, 315bn pound scheme for rebuilding Europe's ageing infrastructure.

14)  ... eccentric, surprisingly ramshackle, as though Bridget Riley had been redrawn by Heath Robinson.

15)  ... were also tainted with the country's reputation for cobbling things together in a "Heath Robinson" fashion.

16)  It's a wonderful Heath Robinson contraption. There's a bicycle wheel, a toilet cistern, the casing ...

17)  ... machines and working out the clunky construction, "says author Philip Pullman, a Heath Robinson devotee. 

18)  Royal Navy engineers dubbed their makeshift changes to the Sea Harrier aircraft the "Heath Robinson chaff modification".

19)  ... the predecessor to the world's first computer Colossus, was nicknamed Heath Robinson. It consisted of reels and spools, which had to be precisely aligned ...

20)  He had built this crazy, Heath Robinson arrangement, but the thing worked the first time we tested it.