Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm editing a document written by someone who grew up in the UK, which contains the phrase "We'll quote you happy". That doesn't parse for me (I grew up in New Zealand), but a quick search about the web suggests it is used with regard to cars or car insurance in the UK, and thus might derive from an advertisement that I have not seen.

Is there a specific meaning? Would I be advised to leave it as-is or change it?

share|improve this question
1  
It was a "quirky" usage first coined/popularised by Norwich Union Direct (Insurance) in the UK in 2004. I still fondly recall the (to me, rather attractive) voice of the girl who used to read the voiceover on the tv ads. The "quirkiness" has worn off for me because of repeated exposure, though as Mark says, the basic format is used with other more familiar expressions. But I wouldn't use it in anything remotely "formal". –  FumbleFingers Aug 22 '12 at 13:56
    
I'm thinking it is a play on the phrase "Well color me happy" and related. –  KitFox Aug 22 '12 at 15:15
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It instantly brings to my (UK-born) mind the car insurance company that uses (or used to use) the quote. I'd change it, unless it's deliberately being used to allude to that insurance company. It also might be trademarked.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for changing it: my American-born head can't parse this phrase no matter how I twist it about. –  Marthaª Aug 22 '12 at 13:35
    
It's certainly an ugly turn of phrase. –  Spinner Aug 22 '12 at 13:36
    
A quick Google suggests it's common parlance. If the company you have in mind is Aviva, I don't see them displaying the phrase with a trademark. But as you say, caution is advisable. –  StoneyB Aug 22 '12 at 13:49
    
Yes, Aviva (though I think the quote dates from the Norwich Union days). I don't know if the phrase itself is trademarked, although quotemehappy.com is trademarked. I'd just steer clear through not wanting to be associated with them! –  Spinner Aug 22 '12 at 14:02
add comment

"We'll quote you happy" has the same form as "We'll make you happy", "We'll tickle you pink", or "We'll shoot you dead", i.e.:

"We'll (transitive verb) (direct object of verb) (attribute adjective, state of direct object as a result of transitive verb)"

However, "quote" is not usually a transitive verb so this phrase is confusing.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It's from Norwich Union's "Quote Me Happy" adverts, from 2003. It means they'll give you an insurance quote that will make you happy.

The phrase was registered as a UK trademark in 2003, is still valid, and owned by Aviva Insurance Limited (the new name since 2009 for Norwich Union), so you're best off not using it in anything work-related, especially nothing related to insurance or financial services.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for actually explaining the meaning of the verb "to quote" in the context of insurance, which isn't trivial in any sense. –  Avner Shahar-Kashtan Aug 22 '12 at 15:11
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.