[ dish-waw-ter, -wot-er ]
/ ˈdɪʃˌwɔ tər, -ˌwɒt ər /


water in which dishes are, or have been, washed.

Nearby words

  1. dishtowel,
  2. dishware,
  3. dishwasher,
  4. dishwasherproof,
  5. dishwashing,
  6. dishy,
  7. disillusion,
  8. disillusioned,
  9. disillusionize,
  10. disillusionment


    dull as dishwater/ditchwater, extremely dull; boring.

Origin of dishwater

First recorded in 1475–85; dish + water Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for dull as dishwater


/ (ˈdɪʃˌwɔːtə) /


water in which dishes and kitchen utensils are or have been washed
something resembling thisthat was dishwater, not coffee
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for dull as dishwater



also dish-water, "water where dishes have been washed," late 15c., from dish (n.) + water (n.). Used figuratively of weak broth, coffee, etc., from 1719.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with dull as dishwater

dull as dishwater

Boring, tedious, as in That lecture was dull as dishwater. The original simile, dull as ditchwater, dating from the 1700s, alluded to the muddy water in roadside ditches. In the first half of the 1900s, perhaps through mispronunciation, it became dishwater, that is, the dingy, grayish water in which dirty dishes had soaked.


see dull as dishwater.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.