Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Ditch, the n.1

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

[[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]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 Aug. 92/2: Yet I behold / This swinking city on the Ditch’s shore / With satisfaction.
[Ind]Times of India 20 Dec. 2/7: Poona has a far better chance [...] of becoming the seat of the Supreme Government. It must be borne in mind that this question will have to be settled at home, where Ditch interest goes a very little way.
[Ind]Times of India 24 Oct. 3/3: The ‘public!’ The Calcutta howlers, the second rate merchants, the gambling speculators, and semi-insolvent trading community of that filthy ditch.
[Ind]Times of India 8 Mar. 4/1: Never was a civilized community more given up to be plundered by the natural enemies and leeches of society than that of Calcutta [...] life in the Ditch is becoming more and more impossible.
[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 [...].
[Scot]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.
[Scot]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.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Old Scores [ebook] ‘[A] new mob of bikies, not from over East but even worse, from across the fucken ditch, is muscling into Perth’.

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]Times of India 27 Oct. 2/7: CALCUTTA 17th October. The Doorgah Poojah holidays have commenced and Calcutta is empty. [...] I shall not bother you with a detail of the various places the done-up Ditchers have flitted to. They will be back [...] and then we shall have dust and worry, and litigation again.
[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.
[Ind]Times of India 11 Aug. 5/2: I for one, as an old ditcher, shall be ashamed, when the Graphic and Penny Illustrated bring out the pictures of the Calcutta International and this ugly old box of a museum forms the centre of it.