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"It isn't every day a man wakes up to discover he's a screaming bender with no more right to live on God's clean Earth than a weasel."

- Dr. Leech, "Blackadder II"

What's the origin of that phrase, God's clean earth, and how long has it been in use? Google NGrams gives me nothing.

EDIT: Given it really does seem to come from this, I agree it's too localized and am chucking the final vote in to close it. Thanks again all!

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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, Kristina Lopez, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, MετάEd, Lunivore Jan 17 '13 at 0:49

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Looks like the quote has been truncated. Perhaps it should be "...he's on a screaming bender..."? And, too, the syntax leaves much to be desired. When has a man had the right to live on a weasel? –  user21497 Jan 15 '13 at 14:56
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@Andrew: I didn't know that "bender" means "male homosexual". Thank you for filling in my repertoire of unspeakable words. :-) –  user21497 Jan 15 '13 at 15:21
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@T.E.D. Fortunately, context is everything. When I first saw Futurama, Bender spent most of the episode bending things. In fact the other meaning never occurred to me. I'm not sure I shall be able to watch another episode in quite the same light again, though, now that you have mentioned it! –  Andrew Leach Jan 15 '13 at 16:53
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@FumbleFingers I don't think they're the kind of people who'd refer to God's green earth; they may well have been referencing Blackadder without me realising though. As for Monty Python, I'd like to have an argument, please. –  Lunivore Jan 17 '13 at 23:17
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@FumbleFingers It is. Or should I say, It's... –  Lunivore Jan 17 '13 at 23:34

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The origin is that Ben Elton and Richard Curtis thought it up for that episode. You're allowed to be original.

The form "God's Earth" or "God's [adjective] Earth" (green, wide, and others) originates from the simple fact that the Christian god (normally referred to simply as "God") was creator of and authority over the earth:

The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. - Psalm 24:1

So, "God's anything earth" as a phrasing would come directly from this belief, which predates the English language.

Generally referencing something in terms of God or Christ when there is no real reason to do so, is a mild form of swearing that has been found in English since the Angles and Saxons were converted. (Ironically, since it's considered a sin to do so).

Elton & Curtis use clean to contrast against homophobic slurs which would would use metaphors of dirt and filth to insult gay people (the general statement is a homophobic insult).

Edit with hat-tip to rajah9:

And therefore we can be precise as to "how long has it been around", the episode first aired on the 9th of January, 1986 so it has been around twenty-seven years and one week. And since I remember it from that first airing, I now feel old.

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What was the airing date of the episode? That would answer the part of the OP's question "How long has it been around?" –  rajah9 Jan 16 '13 at 14:03
    
Good idea, @rajah9 –  Jon Hanna Jan 16 '13 at 14:09
    
Thank you. Given how many uses of it I found on the internet, I was curious (I just used it in an answer to someone on a forum, and found myself bemused). –  Lunivore Jan 16 '13 at 23:29
    
Well, some people could well arrive at it independently, but I'd note also that google finds over 2million references for "I have a cunning plan". –  Jon Hanna Jan 16 '13 at 23:54

I have not watched this episode, but I suspect Dr. Leech said "God's green Earth," for which you will find considerably more hits.

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There are lots and lots of references to this being "God's clean earth". –  Andrew Leach Jan 15 '13 at 15:07
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@BillFranke Exactly: in Blackadder II the speech is "God's clean earth". The question does not misquote Dr Leech, and this answer's stated suspicion is not well-founded. –  Andrew Leach Jan 15 '13 at 15:34
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When search on <<"God's clean earth" -blackadder>>, I get about seventy hits, several of which still reference weasels and benders. The earliest web reference was Jan 31, 2001. I'm sticking with my initial Mondegreen suspicion (phrases.org.uk/meanings/mondegreen.html). –  rajah9 Jan 15 '13 at 17:06
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That proves nothing. Besides which, I have watched this episode, and he said "clean". –  Jon Hanna Jan 15 '13 at 17:54
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Just watched it again. Definitely "clean". Still a funny show, despite watching it so much I know every joke that's coming. –  Jon Hanna Jan 16 '13 at 2:47

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