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

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Aug 1 18:24:05 UTC 2012

Yes, thanks, upon looking at the actual quotation later I too
realized it was "detached from conventional reality".  However, if
Google Books provides it in one date range including the year 1747
but does not in another, even Google Books must be detached from
conventional (chronological) reality.

The OED does have a conventionally real quotation for "dull as
ditch-water" at 1844.  I missed it earlier because I did not probe
also *with* the hyphen.


At 8/1/2012 12:51 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
>Joel S. Berson wrote:
> > 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
>The match in GB for the phrase "dull as ditchwater" with a 1747 date
>appears to be spurious. The metadata is apparently inaccurate. Here is
>a link:
>GB indicates that the word "ditchwater" is present in "The Spectator,
>Volume 8" with a date of 1747. Also, the phrase "dull as ditchwater"
>is visible in the snippet.
>However, if you search for "November" in this same volume a snippet
>shows an issue dated "November 9, 1974". This suggests that the date
>of 1747 is detached from conventional reality.
>Perhaps the GB date was assigned to 1747 because some journal named
>"The Spectator" was founded in 1747.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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