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Way, way down.

Dear Editor:

Where do we get the expression to deep-six something? Is it related to the expression six feet under?

S. E.

Millinocket, Maine

The noun deep six means "a place of disposal or abandonment." It's used especially in the phrase give it the deep six, meaning get rid of it completely; it's hot, it's dangerous, or it's incriminating. In naval slang, the phrase means to toss something overboard. It comes from the leadsman's call by the deep six for a depth corresponding to the sixth deep on a sounding line.

As a verb, deep-six attained fame in the Watergate era, when former White House counsel John Dean told the Senate Watergate Committee that his former colleague John Ehrlichman had advised him to deep six a briefcase found in the White House safe of Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt Jr.

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Article Type:Brief article
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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