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The meaning and origin of the expression: Praying at the porcelain altar

Praying at the porcelain altar

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Praying at the porcelain altar'?

'Praying at the porcelain altar' is a comic reference to kneeling and vomiting down the toilet.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Praying at the porcelain altar'?

This is one of the colourful phrases coined by, or at least popularized by, the Australian comedian Barry Humphries during the 1970s in his Barry McKenzie column in Private Eye.

Humphries is a master at such earthy language and has a repertoire of phrase for vomiting, coined or collected in his native Australia. He could hardly do better than study the works of a previous master collector - Francis Grose. In the 1785 version of his Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, he lists 'Admiral of the Narrow Seas' as:

"One who drunkenly vomits into the lap of one who sits next to him."

See other phrases first recorded by Captain Francis Grose.

See also: 'point Percy at the porcelain'.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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