But the worst part of it was being tried as a . . . criminal, as though his work hadn't had any political consequences. He'd tried hard to set that aside, but the prosecutor hadn't let go, his voice dripping with contempt in his summation —actually worse than that, because he'd been so matter-of-fact in the presentation of his evidence, saving his contempt for later.
Rainbow Six, by Tom Clancy
It is one of my favorite metaphors and it seems to be on the increase in recent years. When something is soaked to the bone, in both the figurative and literal sense, it is saturated and begins to leak; it drips, hence the phrase in bold suggests the person's contempt was audible enough to actually hear or see it dripping.
It's an effective turn of phrase, but I believe the older expression is dripping with sarcasm, and Google Ngram seem to agree
What really surprised me was how recent its coinage seems to be, the earliest example I found is dated 1921:Arne (in a voice dripping with sarcasm) Well, are you tired of life? Although I did also find a 1913 source that had dripped with sarcasm
Mrs. Pennycook's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Yes, I've been away three years, but I see time ain't softened the tongues nor sharpened the consciences o' some of my old lady friends.
In British English there is a more jocular variant
be dripping with sth
to be wearing a lot of something: She was absolutely dripping with gold/jewels.
Although, truth be told, dripping with bling appears to be American, and coined in the early 21st century.
- When did “dripping with sth” as a metaphor, first appear in print?
- Is it American or British English in origin?
- Who wrote "dripping with contempt/sarcasm" first?