All in the Same Boat (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "All in the Same Boat"?

The term "all in the same boat" means everyone is facing the same challenge or will share the same fate.

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All in the Same Boat (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • We're a team. If one of us fails, we all fail. We're all in the same boat.
  • There are no winners or losers here. We're all in the same boat.
  • Did you spend all your money yesterday? Well, we're both in the same boat then.
  • (Notice that "all" can be replaced with other words to better fit the sentence.)
  • We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now. (Activist Martin Luther King)
This idiom originates from at least the 16th century in Britain. Of interest, it seems it was used metaphorically from the outset. It first appeared in writing in a 1584 translation of Du Bartas' "Historie of Judith":
  • "haue ye paine ? so likewise paine haue we:
    For in one bote we both imbarked be.
    Vpon one tide, one tempest doeth vs tosse,
    Your common ill, it is our common losse."
It is also used as a metaphor in a 1629 text by English clergyman Thomas Taylor:
  • "He is in the same boate which is tossed and threatned with the tempest, and is someway interessed in the common cause, and quarrell."

Competing Theory

The phrase originated in Greece in the mid-19th century. It was used more literally, referring to the shared fate of passengers in small sea boats.

Competing Theory

"All in the same boat" refers to the Titanic in 1912, when passengers from all classes were faced with the same situation as the ship was sinking.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.