March 15, 2010

Richard Armitage: Long, Tall Drink of Water

The origin of the term ‘A long, tall drink of water‘ appears to be as clear as mud. In my experience, it refers to tall men BUT evidently not so for everyone. Quotes from etymology website:
>> "As refreshing as a tall drink of water on a hot afternoon" is how I always heard it....posted by #1
I don't know, but I've heard it used to describe men, too.
posted by #2

I've heard it more in the context of describing men than women.
posted by #3

I've only used it heard for men. For women I've heard a "cool drink of water," not "tall"....posted by #4
I have heard it used to refer to a woman, for whatever that is worth. She was tall, and a looker....posted by #6
After a long, hot and humid day in the South, there's nothing like a tall cold glass of water. I think that's the long and the short of it: when a woman is so outstandingly good-looking that she evokes that same feeling. It's a matter of contrast: hot day, thirst, then a tall glass of water. Normal looking people, working with sweaty men all day, then you see a beautiful woman..posted by #8

I've heard it in reference to men and women: someone tall, slender, and attractive in a cool, laid-back way…posted by #9

#10 research results: The term exists in two forms: long drink of water and tall drink of water. Most dictionaries do not have the expression and no dictionary I checked has any speculation about the etymology of the term. The Historical Dictionary of American Slang defines the term as "a tall man" and has a first citation of 1936, but with minimal effort I've been able to antedate it possibly to 1904, though it's not a strict use of it in metaphor:

1904 Times (London, England) "The Speaker Defied" (May 10) p. 12: Mr. Kirkwood addressed his reproof to Lord Winterton, who, along with his colleagues, had protested against the defiance of the speaker's ruling. "Ye are not treating with Indians, ye big long drink of water," he shouted. Immediately the Speaker reproved the member from Dumbarton.

Another newspaper that quoted the same thing indicates that the speaker, Kirkwood, is a Scottish Labor party member, as also indicated by the "ye." There's nothing about the expression in the Dictionary of Scots Language....posted by #11
A brief look at Google images suggests the phrase is more often used to describe tall, built men, than attractive, possibly tall women….posted by #12<<

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