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The meaning and origin of the expression: In the same boat

In the same boat

What's the meaning of the phrase 'In the same boat'?

In the same circumstances; facing the same predicament..

What's the origin of the phrase 'In the same boat'?

'In the same boat' originated in 16th century Britain. When Thomas Hudson translated Du Bartas' Historie of Judith in 1584 he formed a metaphor that equated being 'in the same boat' with 'having the same fate':

Haue ye paine? so likewise paine haue we: For in one bote we both imbarked be.

The metaphor took some time to catch the public imagination but, in 1629, the clergyman Thomas Taylor used it again:

He is in the same boate which is tossed and threatned with the tempest, and is someway interessed in the common cause, and quarrell.

The metaphor clearly alludes to the fact that one cannot get off a boat once it is under way and alludes to people who are together in a boat sharing the same fate, whether they choose to or not.

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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