"dull as ditchwater" vs. "dull as dishwater"?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Aug 1 15:24:13 UTC 2012

OK, I've heard about the death of Google search.  (Perhaps only for
date-prescribed searches; it still seems to find many instances of
phrases if one is not particular when.)

Now how about the birth of "dull as ditch/dishwater"?


At 7/31/2012 04:09 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>Can the learned members elucidate:
>When did these two phrases come in to use?
>If "dishwater" was later, why?
>When using Google Ngrams, must I enclose the phrases in quotation
>marks, or does Ngrams treat an unquoted sequence of words (before a
>comma) as a phrase and not individual words?
>Why does Ngrams tell me "ditchwater" arose around 1827 and
>"dishwater"  around 1875 when I find one instance of the former
>between 1700 and 1799 and none of the latter until perhaps the mid-1900s?
>Can anyone explain the flawed and inconsistent Google Book search
>results when a time period is specified?  E.g., if I ask for "1700 -
>1799", I find "dull as ditchwater" at 1747; if I ask for "1600 -
>1799", GBooks says none.  Or if I ask for "any time - 1910", GBooks
>alleges that it appears in the Manifesto of the Communist Party (and
>no other book)?
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list