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Getting into hot water

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 7:23 pm
by WonderingSpaniard
Does that phrase belong to or form itself some kind of English idiom?? If so, what's it's meaning and, when necessary, how is it completed?

Thanks a lot!!



Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 7:47 pm
by Apoclima
It means getting into trouble!

I don't know where it comes from! Don't have time now to look anymore!

If you get into hot water, it's easy to get burned!


Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:08 pm
by William
WS, the phrase "getting into hot water" means getting in to some kind of trouble. At least that is the way it has been used in my experience. I don't hear it much any more.

Another phrase that was once common in this part of the English speaking world that is similar in meaning to "getting into hot water" is "getting into Dutch". The phrase "getting into Dutch" seems to have been exclusively applied to someone who had gotten caught in some infraction of a rule or law, and pushisment for them was pending. The phrase might well have been applied in the case of Charlotte Corday for whom punishment, in the form of the guillotine, was indeed pending after her attack upon Jean-Paul Marat.

The phrase "in hot water", on the other hand, has a broader meaning beyond the trouble resulting from willful misconduct such as perpetrated by Corday*. It could also mean that someone is, for example, in a precarious financial position or is in some other sort of danger unrelated to defiance of rules or laws.

In my long ago youth, the phrase "in trouble" was so frequently used in the same sense as "getting into Dutch" as described above that to this day when I hear that someone is "in trouble" the first thing that enters my mind is that they have been guilty of some infraction.

During those ancient days, when a young unmarried woman was said to be "in trouble" it most often meant that she was pregnant. But I have not heard the phrase used in that sense in many many years.


*I suppose it could be argued that Corday's murder of Marat might be considered a morally justified execution rather than a murder in view of the Jacobin excesses of the French Revolution and Marat's part in them.

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:34 am
by tcward
Cooking idioms are quite common. I think this could fall into that category.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire!
(We thought a bad situation had been resolved, but actually now it's worse than it was before!)

a [real] pickle
a [very] difficult situation

a [real] jam
a [very] difficult situation


Think of the poor lobsters... They find themselves in hot water all too often!


Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 7:41 am
by Apoclima
Or, perhaps, it means "captured and forced to bathe before court."

Not "bathe before the court," bathe before going in front of a judge (and they can be picky!).


Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 12:54 pm
by KatyBr
or perhaps like the mythical frog kept in a pot and slowly boiled to death?

altho' I prefer Apo's......

Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 7:23 pm
by WonderingSpaniard
Thank you!!!

That's from a newspaper headline I must translate. Given the amount of double-sense I could spot in the body, I thought it very likely that those words meant something else, too... I should have come to it by myself I think. Notwithstanding, my Spanish-shapen mind relates hot water with a pleasant bath in the Mediterranean... xD



Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 6:50 pm
by Stargzer
Etymology Online dates "hot water" meaning trouble from 1537.

Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 11:56 pm
by tcward
Wow... Those Old English speakers were so creative!