I was wondering if the term has Indian origins? I recently came across it in the Animal Farm :
"But is this simply part of the order of nature? Is it because this land of ours is so poor that it cannot offer a decent life to those who dwell on it? No, comrades, a thousand times no! The soil of England is fertile..."
This is a very common phrase in Hindi/Urdu - "nahi, hazaar martaba nahi !"
Note also that George Orwell was born in India.