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Oil and water

Posted by ESC on October 25, 2007

In Reply to: Oil and water posted by Victoria S Dennis on October 25, 2007

: : I'd like to know (if possible) where does the phrase "Oil and water don't mix" come from. China? India? Who said it? Any information will be very useful.

: It's not a "quotation" (i.e. something people say because a famous person said it first). It's an observation that could have been made by any person from any culture that knows and uses oil (which, let's face it, includes most of the world). Like other observations of common phenomena (e.g. "fight like cat and dog", "one swallow does not make a summer") it may well have been made quite independently by many different people. It wouldn't surprise me at all if people say something of the kind in China and India; that of course doesn't mean that we got the phrase from there. (VSD)

Oil and water don't mix - "Said of things with such different natures that they cannot be combined. Often used to explain conflicts between incompatible people. Originated in the United States in 1783. attributed to Joseph Jones of Virginia." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). Page 259.