The Corner

Tossing the Kitchen Sink

Fine to get rid of the phrase “kitchen sink.” But first, in honor of Bill Buckley, I wish to lament its widespread misuse, by the Clinton campaign and the media. The Clinton campaign — indeed, the Senator herself, first announced that they would be “throwing the kitchen sink” at her rival, Senator Obama. It was taken up and repeated widely in that form by reporters discussing the escalation of challenges to his credibility and ethics.

I cannot find it in my Fowler’s, but the traditional usage was not to throw the kitchen sink, as if it were a heavy object that would knock someone out. For that, better to throw a refrigerator, or, most traditionally, stones. One throws “everything …but the kitchen sink” into the mix. What’s in the stew? Beef, peas, carrots, everything in the house but the kitchen sink. Used as a whole, the phrase conveys that you are throwing everything that can be thrown … So, the intent behind the incorrect usuage was correct, since that is surely what her campaign is doing. But if you can’t use household metaphors correctly, stay out of the kitchen.

Editors Note: This post has been amended. The author thanks Corner readers for pointing out an error.

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