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Clichés – ‘wash down’, again

[8 Dec 2016] Now that they’ve voted against the EU, how long before the British people rise up against the clichéd verb ‘wash down’? Its use to describe the sluicing of food particles through the gullet, usually aided by some exotic wine or spirit, has become widespread among restaurant critics and travel writers. Fresh examples abound, like reindeer droppings in the winter snow:

  • Foolishly I washed it all down with many additional draughts of beer. (Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island, Daily Mail, 16 Aug 2016)
  • To gauge how far she [Elizabeth David], and we, had come, consider the typical supper she recollected sitting down to in the mid-1930s – ‘three sardines on bits of toast, one very tired sponge cake, two digestive biscuits’, all washed down by ‘tepid tea’ and interspersed with cigarettes. (Jenny Johnson, Daily Mail, 8 July 2016)
  • The coolest woman I have ever had the terror of breaking bread with… ordered steak, chips, tarte tatin and Epoisses, washed down with champagne for dinner at the Ritz, each element receiving only the most cursory acknowledgment. (Hannah Betts, Times, 8 Nov 2016)
  • The Randolph even forgot to serve a cup of tea to wash down the sorry affair. (Andrew Elson, Times, 18 Oct 2016)
  • Glued to the television, The Donald devoured hamburgers washed down with Diet Coke… (Toby Harnden, Sunday Times, 13 Nov 2016)


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