What does the phrase, Slow Boat to China mean?

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The phrase “slow boat to China” is generally used to refer to the movement of goods or people which is very slow and taking undue long time. When someone is anxiously waiting for a shipment that doesn’t seem to arrive he would ironically remark that his package might be on a slow boat to China. The Term “slow boat to China” is part of the slang American English used commonly in the black film era by the criminals as well as detectives.

The phrase “slow boat to China” is generally used to refer to the movement of goods or people which is very slow and taking undue long time. When someone is anxiously waiting for a shipment that doesn’t seem to arrive he would ironically remark that his package might be on a slow boat to China. The Term “slow boat to China” is part of the slang American English used commonly in the black film era by the criminals as well as detectives. A song composed in the 1940s had the phrase as quoted in the song “I’d like to get you, on a slow boat to China, All to myself, alone.

 

 

What is the Origin of the Phrase Slow Boat to China?

The term “slow boat to China” seems to have originated from the game of poker. The player who lost at a slow and steady pace was often referred to as a "slow boat to China”. Consequently the patient player achieved his winnings slowly and steadily much like a slow boat to China. In a way the victim’s plight was profitable for the winning poker player.

 

 

What is the Song "on a Slow Boat to China"?

A song composed in the 1940s by Frank Loesser had the phrase slow boat to China in it. It is a romantic song referring to the idea of being much in love with a person that you would prefer to take her on a slow boat to China so as to be able to spend the maximum time with her. The reference may have originated from the fact that reaching China by boat would invariably take a very long time.

 

 

What is the Effect of "Slow Boat to China"?

The idiom “slow boat to China” describes something that takes a long time and is excruciatingly slow in reaching its destination. It basically refers to a form of transportation that is very slow and may never reach its destination. It is generally used in office lingo when an official may complain of an important shipment he has not yet received. For instance “My client has put the important consignment on a slow boat to ChinaIt means that the consignment has not yet reached him though he has been waiting for it since a long time.

 

What is the Modern Use of the term "Slow Boat to China"?

The phrase “slow boat to China” continues to be used in modern times though with slight changes in usage. People may use the phrase idiomatically to suggest that they have a lot of time to finish a particular task. For example “We have a lot of time in the summer vacation so we can afford to be on a slow boat to China”. The phrase, “slow boat to China" may also be used in the context of someone having to take a long trip to meet his goals. The phrase “slow boat to China" is no longer used in the romantic sense as used in the romantic song of the 1940s but the phrase may certainly make an appearance if modern musicians feel motivated to revive the song. Some books and movies set in the background of the 1940s were inspired to use the slang term “slow boat to China”.

 

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