Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Ditch, the n.1

[the Mahratta Ditch, built by the East India Company in 1742 to protect Calcutta from the Mahratta tribesmen, it ran for 8km (3 miles) but the work was never finished]

1. Calcutta; thus ditcher, an inhabitant of Calcutta; also attrib.

[[UK]Derby Mercury 17 Feb. 1/3: The Lands within the Moratta Ditch all round Calcutta [...] and six hundred Yards all round the Ditch, I will give entirely to the [East India] Company].
[Ind]Asiatic Jrnl & Mthly Register Jan. 39: Few readers of the Asiatic Journal will require to be told that, in Bengal, [...] ‘the Ditch’ is the soubriquet bestowed upon Calcutta by those who desire to disparage the city of palaces.
[UK]Morn. Post 6 Dec. 2/1: All this time, we of the Calcutta ditch are as quiet as a ‘setting [sic] duck’.
[Ind]India Sporting Rev. XII 69: The carrion in question [i.e. ‘high’ venison] was destined for the Calcutta market, and on my expressing curiosity, mingled with wonder, as to what class of Ditch gourmands revelled in such offensive and poisonous luxury, I was informed it was much appreciated by the wealthy Calcutta Baboos.
[Ind]Yule & Burnell Hobson-Jobson (1996) 319/2: DITCH, DITCHER. Disparaging sobriquets for Calcutta, and its European citizens. [Ibid.] 537/2: MAHRATTA DITCH, n.p. An excavation made in 1742, as described in the extract from Orme, on the landward sides of Calcutta, to protect the settlement from the Mahratta bands. Hence the term, or for shortness ‘The Ditch’ simply, as a disparaging name for Calcutta.
[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.
[Ind]Letters of an Indian Judge to an English Gentlewoman 114: Our jails are full, our Courts are working overtime over this ridiculous business of non-co-operation which will get us nowhere but into the Ditch.

2. the Suez Canal.

[UK]Liverpool Mercury 26 Aug. 2/7: the remarks of Sir Robert Stepheson, C.E., on the Suez Ditch, as he terms it [...].
[UK]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 11 Jan. 2/6: Nothing can disturb their equanimity so long as there is no interference with the Suez Ditch.
[UK]Manchester Eve. News 13 May 2/4: Beresford [...] ridicules the idea of England wasting her resources in endeaviouring to defend a ‘ditch’ like the Suez Canal.
Cook Co. Herald (Grand Marais, MN) 14 May 7/3: Engineers in charge of Ditch at Suez.
Wkly Teleg. 1 Feb. 4/1: headline] The Threatened ‘Ditch’ Wonders of the Suez Canal.
[UK]Aberdeen Jrnl 5 Dec. 5/4: Britain is as broad as the four seas [...] You feel it whenever you [...] enter the ‘Big Ditch’ at Suez.
[US]LaBarge & Holt Sweetwater Gunslinger 201 (1990) 236: Ditch – nickname for Suez Canal.

3. (N.Z.) the Tasman Sea, which divides New Zealand from Australia.

[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.

In derivatives

Ditcher (n.) (also Calcutta ditcher)


Parbury’s Oriental Herald 27 Nov. 649: We hear officers at the presidency complaining that the ‘good things,’ arising out of the forthcoming campaign, are falling to the Mofussilites. Two years ago the Mofussilites grumbled because every vacancy was filled up by a Ditcher!
[Aus]Sthn Australian (Adelaide) 25 Aug. 4/4: We have omitted to make mention of the terrible storm [...] with which Calcutta and the adjacent villages were visited on Sunday last. With the narrow spirit common to Ditchers, we conceived that the storm was confined to our own dear metropolis, and that the hail-stones were actually no bigger than the usual pigeon’s eggs.
Indian News (London) 25 July 314/1: It would be a pleasant thing to beat the Ducks and the Ditchers in the formation of the first railway in India.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 13 Dec. 6/6: It is probable that his ex-Majesty will arrive here just in time to see [...] a sham fight, and the capture of Delhi – for which no end of bamboos [...] will be blown into fragments by the victorious British, for the edification of the Calcutta ditchers.
[Ind]G. Drago John Hobbs 3: ‘Qui hi, or ditcher;’ a ‘benighted Mull’, or an ‘ambitious Duck’. These are nick terms applied to the English residents at the three presidencies – Bengal, Madras, and Bombay respectively. [...] The Bengalee is also called a ‘Ditcher’ from the circumstance of the Mahrattah Ditch encircling Calcutta.
[Ind]Calcutta Rev. XLVI 162: We have performed the journey in 4 hours for 4 rupees, by post office van, but were there a tram-road on the American plan, the journey might be made with ease in 2 hours, thus enabling the Calcutta ditcher to emerge from his vapor bath and reach Simla by an express train in 2 days.
[UK]J. Grant Fairer Than a Fairy II 52: ‘But it is always the season here for plenty of gup among the Ditchers, as the residents of Calcutta are called,’ Jack remarked.
[UK]Jrnl East India Assoc. 15 414: We have, in Indian slang, the Calcutta ditchers, the Bombay ducks, and the Madras mulls.