In Reply to: A long tall cool drink of water posted by Smokey Stover on March 21, 2010 at 18:48:
: : : : : : What is the origin of the phrase "A long tall cool drink of water?" I heard this phrase to describe a woman. I lived in the south and also heard this phrase to describe a tall good looking person but would like to know where it originated from. Thank you.
: : : : : This one is pretty hard to pin down. There are many variations on the saying and many interpretations of what it means. I've always heard it as "A tall drink of water" and taken it to mean a tall, slender person. It could be a female or a male, and not necessarily attractive. Google comes up with variations like long drink of water, tall glass of water, long, tall glass or drink, with some people only applying it to women, or some only to men. Some definitions carry the idea of attractiveness. Others suggest tall and attractive while some say it just means attractive (and not necessarily tall). "Refreshing" is a word that comes up often in definitions for the phrase. One even stated that it means tall and plain; "as uninteresting as a glass of water". Perhaps it's a regional thing. Most of the posts from "down south" likened it to a tall good-looking woman. In that sense, I would lean toward the refreshing, desirable, satisfying, thirst-quenching connection.
: : : : I imagine that climate plays a part. The hotter it is where you live, the more attractive the idea of a cool drink of water is. In dank chilly climates, it has much less appeal! (VSD)
: : : I agree with Victoria. Personally, I've never heard the expression in the UK, perhaps because of our weather!
: : As a youth in the Southeaster US I often heard "long" and "tall" concatenated. Elvis, or someone of his genre even had a song lyric with "long tall Sally". Are 'long' and 'tall' often used in this manner outside the SE US?
: I have two associations in my mind, both from the western U.S. I believe it was used by Raymond Chandler, as "a tall drink of water." If so, that might explain why the expression lingers on, since Chandler is something of an icon in American fiction. I may also have seen or heard it in a cowboy context. The only connotation I got with it was height.
Upon further search, my suspicion that "long drink of water" sometimes appears with the same meaning, I found an indication that this is the case. See:
[Dead link removed - ed]
One of the comments suggests that "long drink of water" is, surprisingly, used mostly to describe a tall woman.
I have to admit that my reference to Raymond Chandler was based on nothing more substantial that I have actually read books by Chandler, but without this particular phrase in mind.
If you wish to Google either of the phrases you will find numerous discussions of the benefits of drinking water, and some comments about alcoholic beverages. If you are thinking of using the phrase yourself, use either long or tall, but not both, and squelch the cool.