BBC dismisses complaint about Laura Kuenssberg using the phrase “nitty-gritty”

The BBC has dismissed a complaint about its political editor Laura Kuenssberg using the phrase “nitty-gritty”.

Anti-racist campaigners claimed the words originated during the slave trade.

However, linguistic experts dismiss the suggestion – suggesting it comes from the 1940s.

Last year SKY Sports reportedly banned the words “nitty-gritty”.

Ms Kuenssberg’s remark came as she commented last November on the departure of communication chief Lee Cain from Downing Street.

She said: “Before we get into the nitty gritty for saddo nerds like us who are fascinated by all this soap opera…”

One viewer complained.

The matter was initially dismissed by the BBC but quickly escalated towards to a higher executive level.

It has been dismissed again.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, nitty-gritty means:

“The fundamentals, realities or basic facts of a situation or subject. The heart of the matter.”

Language researcher Gary Martin, of phrases.org.uk, said:

“There is no evidence to support the suggestion that ‘nitty-gritty’ has any connection with slave ships.

“It may have originated in the USA as an African-American expression, but that’s as near as it gets to slavery.”


About the Author

Philip Braund spent 16 years at the Daily Mirror as a reporter and news editor before moving to ITV. He was the series producer of the ground-breaking investigation programme The Cook Report, Managing Editor at ITV's Millbank Studios, and Head of News at ITV Central. He has won national and regional Royal Television Society awards for documentaries.



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