E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Blood thicker than water. (See under BLOOD.)
Court holy water. Fair but empty words. In French, Eau bémte de cour.
In deep water. In difficulties; in great perplexity.
It makes my mouth water. It is very alluring; it makes me long for it. Saliva is excited in the mouth by strong desire. The French have the same phrase: Cela fait venir leau à la bouche.
More water glideth by the mill than wots the miller of (Titus Andronicus, ii. 1). The Scotch say, Mickle water goes by the miller when he sleeps. (See under MILLER.)
Oer muckle water drowned the miller. (See DROWN THE MILLER.) The weaver, in fact, is hanged in his own yarn. The French say, Un embarras de richesse.
Of the first water. Of the highest type; very excellent. (See under DIAMOND.)
Smooth water runs deep. Deep thinkers are persons of few words; barking dogs do not bite. There are two or three French proverbs of somewhat similar meaning. For example: En eau endormie point ne se fe; again, Leau qui dort est pire que celle qui court. A calm exterior is far more to be feared than a tongue-doughty Bobadil.
The modest water saw its God and blushed. The allusion is to Christs turning water into wine at the marriage feast. Richard Crashaw (1670) wrote the Latin epigram in pentameter verse.
Nympha pudica Deum vidit et erubuit.
To back water. To row backwards in order to reverse the forward motion of a boat in rowing.
To carry water to the river. To carry coals to Newcastle. In French, Porter de leau à la rivière.
To fish in troubled water. The French saying is, Pêcher en eau troublé, i.e. Profiter des époques de trouble et de révolution pour faire ses affaires et sz fortune. (Hilaire Le Gai.)
To hold water. That wont hold water. That is not correct; it is not tenable. It is a vessel which leaks.
To keep ones head above water. To remain out of debt. When immersed in water, while the head is out of water, one is not drowned.
To throw cold water on a scheme. To discourage the proposal; to speak of it slightingly.