Posted by R.Berg on May 05, 2003
In Reply to: In the proverbial toilet posted by SF on May 05, 2003
: My stock holdings are in the proverbial toilet.
: What does "in the proverbial toilet"this mean?
There is no proverbial toilet. The writer wants to say "My stock holdings are in the toilet." That means "My stock holdings have lost much of their value." Adding "proverbial" is a way of apologizing, a little, for using the cliché "in the toilet." It's like writing "My stock holdings are in the toilet, as they say."
"Proverbial" should really be used only when a proverb is involved. "In the toilet" is a hackneyed slang phrase, but it isn't part of a proverb.