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Witness Post: Hell or High Water

The derivation of this phrase, Hell or High Water, isn’t well known and sometime is caught in obscurity. Was there a major flood at a time in history? Say Noah of Katrina? Was there an ominous time in some part of the world? Does it allude to any time or place in particular? Say Moses and the Red Sea? It doesn’t appear so. It seems that the impressive alliteration refers to some difficult times (hell on Earth), when a person has to dig down deep to overcome them (avoiding death from high water).

One of the earliest American references to Hell or High Water appears in  the Iowa newspaper, The Burlington Weekly Hawk Eye, from 1882. And the quotation below is from The Little Rock Gazette in the same era. It is a piece that comedian and playwright, Mel Brooks, might call ‘authentic frontier gibberish’: “We’ve had un-revised hell and high water – and ‘a mighty heap of high-water, I tell yer.”

Today the expression is often preceded by the word Come, as in Come Hell or High Water. A street smart kid might emphasize: “Nothin’! Not nobody, not no obstacle, nothing is gonna stop me. Come hell or high water, I’ll be there.”

With the number of books, movies, songs, and expressions that use the term, it will be around for a long time to come. See these examples, and a few jokes with the expression, below:

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Image result for come hell or high water meaning

Image result for come hell or high water meaning

Image result for come hell or high water meaning

Image result for come hell or high water

Image result for come hell or high water

Image result for come hell or high water

Image result for hell or high water

Image result for hell or high water

Image result for hell or high water

Image result for hell or high water

Image result for hell or high water

Image result for hell or high water

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According to Wikipedia, since 1985, the following arrived on the scene: