"And the three bears" is a catch-phrase used to express disbelief:-

This new investment will allow the Government to save taxpayers' money!

And the three bears.

Does anyone know how this phrase came to be used in this way? (I can't find any search results without Goldilocks sticking her oar in; I would presume the origin is related to the story, but can't see how.)

  • 4
    I've never seen it used in a stand-alone sense before. I suppose it could just be a way of saying "Fairy tale!"
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 19, 2015 at 13:46
  • 1
    Perhaps the investment provides long-needed toilet facilities in densely wooded environments thus preventing costly cleanup operations?
    – Marv Mills
    Nov 19, 2015 at 13:57
  • 1
    Does it also resolve the vexed question of the religious affiliation of the bishop of Rome?
    – user11752
    Nov 19, 2015 at 14:09
  • 3
    The concept of the "Goldilocks economy" has been popular for quite a while. It describes an economy that's said to be "just right"—just as Golidlocks likes everything—but with the reminder that Goldilocks basically trashed the house to get this result. Eventually, the three bears are going to return—which symbolizes the inevitable economic backlash that follows bad policy. My guess is that this phrase is a reminder that there will be consequences later.
    – ralph.m
    Nov 19, 2015 at 14:22
  • 1
    This is possibly modelled, perhaps intuitively rather than deliberately, on the phrase and the rest. From Macmillan: PHRASE HUMOROUS and (all) the rest (of it) PHRASE used for saying that a number or amount is in fact much higher than someone has said: _‘He must be nearly 50.’ _ ‘And the rest!’ I'm sure @Hot Licks gets the meaning right. 'If you're going to tell us a fairy story, at least put in the scary details too.' Nov 19, 2015 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


“….AND THE THREE BEARS stared at Goldilocks in disbelief.”

Perhaps a little tenuous but I can’t think of any other explanation. It would be good to see some other examples of its use.

  • 2
    Welcome to ELU. This is indeed a bit tenuous, but could be made less tenuous by providing a link to the quote. Nov 19, 2015 at 15:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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