black water for less turbulent water

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Senior Member
Hi there,

Stephen Fry talks of "black water" as opposed to whitewater (turbulent, frothy, white). But is this a common meaning of "black water"?

"I make it perfectly clear to anyone who will listen that black water rafting is all I am interested in. The merest hint of froth, foam and bubbling whiteness in the river and I will be screaming to be paddled ashore."

I suspect he made up all this "black water" business, but he might have not.

  • grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    He is in fact doing both.

    He is playing with words by contrasting white water with 'black' water. However river water is rarely black.


    Black water is an idiom in English. It refers to the colour (and stillnes) of very deep inland pools.

    So Fry is being doubly clever.

    Note however that there are other, more recent, and smellier, meanings for blackwater.
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