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What does "Water under the bridge" mean?

Posted by Masakim on May 06, 2002

In Reply to: What does "Water under the bridge" mean? posted by Word Camel on May 06, 2002

: : What does "Water under the bridge" mean?

: It means that something is in the past and no longer important.

: "My sister and I fought when we were children, but that's water under the bridge."

: I think the analogy is that water under the bridge is constantly moving toward the sea. That's a little abstract, so you might also imagine dropping a leaf into the water from atop a bridge. By watching the leaf float down river you'd be witnessing the progress of the water.

water under the bridge is an idiom cliche used to refer to something that is over and gone and so not worth thinking any more about. It dares from the twentieth century and is still widespread, as "She used to go out with the boy next door but that's all water under the bridge. She married someone else long ago."
From _Cliches_ by Betty Kirkpatrick.


"That's all right," Mason said. "That's all water under the bridge now."
--E.S. Gardner, _The Case of the Borrowed Brunette_)

"She was as rational as you and I, more so perhaps, and we burned her."
"That's water under under the bridge.
--Ray Bradbury, _Fahrenheit 451_


There is the similar phrase "much (or a lot of) water has passed (or flowed or gone) under (or beneath) the bridge since ...", meaning "much time has passed and many different things have happend since ...."


How much water had gone under the bridge since 1932, when Roosevelt had first been a candidate for the House!
--F.L. Allen, _Since Yesterday_

What a lot of water, I reminisced dejectedly, had gone under the bridge since I first had blazed forth as a star from little Bethlehem.
--J. Heller, _God Knows_

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