Monday, June 11, 2012

Big Stink

We use this phrase today in reference to a major scandal or uproar. It is usually used when referring to political scandals, although, this phrase had a more literal use.

The Big Stink
The Big Stink occurred in London in the summer of 1858 when the smell of untreated human waste permeated the city air. Just before 1858, the introduction of flush toilets increased the use of sewers, which before only carried runoff rain water. The increase of human waste in the Thames River and the unusually hot summer increased the smell in the city. Originally, the city had cesspits to deal with waste, but the cost of a shilling often meant that people could not afford to empty the cesspits.

The Big Stink caused a great political scandal in London and pushed for new sewers to be built. This is why we call political scandals a big stink because originally it was. Thankfully political scandals today are not accompanied by a foul odour, at least most of the time.  

Thank you Brendan for suggesting this phrase.

No comments:

Post a Comment