two cliches

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Jul 11 02:41:45 UTC 2009

On Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 9:38 PM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> recently come across: "a sea of woe" and "a world of hurt".  anyone
> looked at these?

Oddly, neither show up in a full-text OED search, though EEBO has
several 17th-century exx for each expression.

Earliest for "sea of woe":

"In Summe, it makes this World a Sea of Wo,
Wherein we, sincking, swim; tost to, and fro."
John Davis (1607), _Yehovah summa totalis_

"Who would remaine in this salt Sea of woe?
In this unfruitfull vale of miserie?
Who would in sinners pathes delight to goe?
Since nought there is but sharpe calamitie."
Richard Braithwaite (1611), _The golden fleece_

Earliest for "world of hurt":

"Besides, what a world of hurt will the ill example of the husband doe
in the family, eyther in children or servants?"
Nicholas Byfield (1626), _Sermons upon the ten first verses of the
third chapter of the first Epistle of S. Peter_

"It is a world of hurt that comes to the Church by impropriations,
especially in the North parts."
Richard Sybbes (1640), _Evangelicall sacrifices_

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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