Water under the Bridge (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Water under the Bridge"?

The term "water under the bridge" is used to describe something from the past that is no longer significant.
Water under the Bridge (Origin)
The idiom "water under bridge" relates to something, usually something negative, from the past that can now be forgotten.

Examples of Use:

  • We used to argue all the time, but that's all water under the bridge nowadays.
  • Just drop it. It's water under the bridge.
  • The Trade Secretary and the Chinese ambassador have agreed to work together towards this common goal. Last week's argument is now water under the bridge.
This idiom originates from the early 1900s. The word "water" refers to river water passing under a bridge. It is, of course, a metaphor for something that never returns. "Water under the bridge" is a common saying in English, most probably because it fits so many real-life scenarios related to forgiveness and moving on. Here are two real-life quotations:
  • I'm not gonna try to defend, or undo what's been done. All I could say about whatever's been done, it's been done, and it's water under the bridge. I have no regrets of my life. (Musician Ike Turner)
  • I'm a take-me-as-l-am person, and all the rest is water under the bridge. You can't change yesterday any more than you can predict what's gonna happen tomorrow. (Singer Glen Campbell)

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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