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Pot calling the kettle black - ethnic slur?

Posted by Paul Guthrie on January 02, 2000

In Reply to: Pot calling the kettle black - ethnic slur? posted by Donna Finley on January 01, 2000 at

: It's clear that "the pot calling the kettle black" refers to criticism that could equally apply to the critic. But why is "black" a criticism in this phrase? I am specifically wondering if this is one of those nasty ethnic slurs that is left over from a time when such things were more commonly spoken, or if some other interpretation might apply. Any ideas or information? Please send an e-mail. Thanks.

I thought that the 'black' in the saying referred to the soot which accumulates on pots and kettles which are used on fire stoves. Maybe the 'black' in this case is a criticism because it's not very nice to have black soot marks left on the table or wherever the kettle is placed? Just my personal interpretation, I don't have any book references.