Posted by Word Camel on December 16, 2003
In Reply to: Story won't wash posted by Lotg on December 15, 2003
: Anyone know where this phrase comes from?
According to Eric Partridge (A dictionary of Catch Phrases) it probably dates from the 1840's The OED quotes Charlotte Bronte as writing "That willn't wash miss.' in 1849. It probably refers to good fabrics that will stay colour fast and stand a washing, the implication being that something that won't wash is of poor quality, won't stand up to examination, or is not durable. (All this paraphrased from Partridge). It can apply to a story, or anything else.