During International Law studies I talked to English natives about politics, using a literal translation of the Dutch "komkommertijd", cucumber time, meaning to refer to the news-silent period of high summer. I thought they understood me.

Later it occurred to me that they might simply have nodded out of courtesy and may have missed the actual meaning. Looking it up, I found that cucumber time seems a dated term, out of use since more than a century.

Would you consider cucumber time and silly season to be equivalent? Would you use either phrase or prefer one over the other?

Update: this German text implies the English term is still in use, while this Dutch text explicitly states the term is out of fashion and largely forgotten.

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    I was unaware of the phrase cucumber time, and would have been unable to define silly season either, before reading the links you give. A common US term is dog days, typically referring to the hot weather of July and August. Jun 25, 2012 at 22:00
  • Answered here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silly_season
    – MetaEd
    Jun 25, 2012 at 22:05
  • @jwpat7: dog days seems to refer to the hot weather (dog day afternoon), while these terms specifically refer to the lack of newsworthy items (etymology is shady, but it's generally accepted that the time that cucumbers are harvested is a slow time for business). Wikipedia comes up with slow news season for Am. Eng, is that more familiar?
    – Abel
    Jun 25, 2012 at 22:08
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    @Abel: dog days can refer to a time hot weather, or to a period of inactivity; see for yourself. To answer your other question, I'd never heard of cucumber days, either, so if you used it, you might have some explaining to do. I've also heard the expression "slow news day."
    – J.R.
    Jun 25, 2012 at 22:54
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    @jwpat7 By way of clarification, the "dog" in dog days originally referred to the dog constellation's position in the sky in the high summer, not to the lethargy of dogs in hot weather. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_Days
    – Merk
    Oct 15, 2012 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


You appear to have answered your own question.

There does seem to be a period where real news appears to dry up and is replaced with more light-hearted material while the heavyweight correspondents are on holiday. In Britain this is universally known as the silly season. In fact I've never heard of "cucumber time".

  • Well, I was uncertain about it, and since so many languages have almost similar translations of "cucumber time", I figured it just might be automatically understood still.
    – Abel
    Jun 25, 2012 at 21:58

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