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WotD: Superflous - Brit Speak — LiveJournal

About WotD: Superflous

Previous Entry WotD: Superflous Apr. 26th, 2004 @ 04:47 pm Next Entry
Today’s WotD would be by way of a phrase. I used this phrase in an LJ entry earlier today and then realised that it probably doesn’t translate very well.

selling coals to Newcastle (PHRASES) To do something superfluous; something supplied to a place where it is already plentiful
ORIGIN Old English.

Newcastle is a port in the North East of England on the River Tyne. It was once the center of all UK coal exports, having a healthy coal seam. Hence, it would be stupid for some one to try and sell coal to Newcastle.
The French have a similar saying "Porter de l'eau à la riviere" (to carry water to the river). There are numerous Latin equivalents as, "To carry wood to the forests" ("Poma Alcinoo dare") etc.

So basically selling coals to Newcastle is to do something unnecessary or superfluous.

Suggested usage:
"Taking my boyfriend to the latest Orlando Bloom film would be like taking coals to Newcastle"

Other variations:
"To carry or take coals to Newcastle"
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Date:April 26th, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC)
I don't know if it's a saying the Young People of Today would still get, but I've known that for a long time. Some years ago I was in Wyoming, and had recently passed a signpost for a town called Newcastle, and then saw a train full of coal headed in that direction. I yelled out the window, "They don't need it!" :)
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