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I saw the phrase “Stick something up one’s jumper” in Jeffery Archer’s short story titled “Member’s Only,” in which Robin Chapman, the hero was kept waiting for 5 years and has to wait for another unknown number of years for being admitted to be a member of the distinguished Royal Jersey Golf Club in the birthplace of Harry Vardon.

The phrase appears in the following conversation between Robin and his wife before Robin attends his second interview by the Club committee after being listed on the waiting list 15 years ago:

‘Good luck, and don’t even hint at how angry you are. It’s not their fault that Germans destroyed all the club record.’

‘I shall tell them they can stick my application form up their jumpers,’ said Robin.

They both burst out laughing at the latest expression they’d picked up from the mainland.

‘Do they have any idea how old I’ll be in 15 years,’ he added.

From the nuance of the context, I guess “stick something up one’s jumper” is similar to “carry it with oneself always.” But why is this phrase so funny that they burst into laughter when uttered? Does “Picked from the mainland” mean the phrase hasn’t yet established as the currency for a received English phrase?

Yahoo answer defines “stick it up one’s jumper” as

It was a catchphrase of the comedian Jimmy Edwards. In the 1950s it was considered quite rude because it included the words 'stick it up'. It has died out since then.

I don't know if it applies to the present case or not.

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5 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This phrase is a modification of the crude, informal present-day phrase, "You can stick it up your ass."

This phrase indicates two things: The person speaking does not care about it, and the person speaking does not like the person who is being targeted in the phrase. "Carry it with oneself always" is a good guess, but this phrase doesn't have that meaning at all.

The use of "They can stick my application form up their jumpers" is used to say that the not only does the speaker not like the people who have his application, and he also doesn't care about the application. "They can stick my application form up their asses" would have been about the same thing, except that in the phrasing the speaker used, he's probably making fun of them for wearing jumpers, too.

This phrase is very rude and not a very good "joking" insult -- it should only be used when you really don't like someone!

The humor comes from the fact that the speaker has used this phrase to declare his contempt for the people involved in a round-about way. I wouldn't say it deserves bursting into laughter, but there you go.

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I would add that the humour comes, in part, from the fact that the speaker clearly intended to convey his contempt but couldn't muster a sufficiently crass way of expressing it. This leaves the speaker seeming ineffectual and laughable. –  Joel Brown Sep 5 '11 at 12:48
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Stick it up your jumper seems to be similar to stick it up your ass. As this site explains, both mean:

colloq: A contemptuous exclamation that is used when something is not wanted, not going one's way, etc.

The Shorter Dictionary of Catch Phrases adds that the full phrase is oompah, oompah, stick it up your jumper and its origins are:

an expression of contempt, defiance, rejection, or dismisal; perhaps originally a meaningless jingle chanted jocularly or defiantly. The phrase dates from the 1920s. The word oompah is imitative of a trumpet, trombone, or other brass instrument.

So the speaker was thumbing his nose at the people who put him on the waiting list for 15 years. Do not use this phrase in common conversation, unless you are deliberately abusing someone.

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In BE at least nobody over the age of 6 would use it.
If you are under 6 the full phrase is: "Umpa, Umpa, Stick it up your Jumper"

It's from a song recorded by music hall duo The Two Leslies (Leslie Sarony & Leslie Holmes) in 1935.

For Americans (and other aliens) jumper is BE for a knitted sweater

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You would think they'd say "Stick it up your pants" instead of "stick it up your sweater". –  isomorphismes Sep 5 '11 at 6:53
    
Its also worth noting that Jersey (as in the name of the Golf Club) is another name for Jumper/sweater in British English. I think the joke plays on this pun (but I agree its not very funny). –  Tom Sep 5 '11 at 8:09
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Not to forget John Lennon's "I am the walrus"... –  Tim Pietzcker Sep 5 '11 at 8:50
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It comes from World War I. Oompah bands are from Germany; it was a British (and Allied) expression of defiance. It was then taken on in popular entertainment, even though it was considered vulgar - jumper being a euphemism for arse (similar to Spike Jones "Right in the Fuerher's face" released during World War II which has the chorus farting in his face). The expression "Oompa Oompa, Stick it up your jumper" is also used in several of the Carry On movies, as well as several other light comedies of the 50's and 60's.

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Well, try going back a little further — say, to around the mid-19th century in southern Africa. In the Setswana language, the phrase "give me", which is a typical asking question is mpha mpha or mphe mphe, and continues to be to this day.

An equally typical response from a British law enforcement officer of that era, marching to and fro in the region, either seeking or avoiding Boers, might be "yeh — Ompa, Ompa, stickit up yer jumpa", or similar words to that effect.

Jimmy Edwards and his peers tend to have military backgrounds, so this is a plausible meaning given the context.

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protected by tchrist Oct 4 '12 at 3:05

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