What's a dishwater blonde?

Okay, I’ve heard the term before, but I’m not sure what the color would look like. Would it be like the color of dishwater? If it’s my dishwater, that would be pretty ugly! Or does it mean the water you are going to use to wash the dishes in? Where did this term come from and why would anyone want hair the color of dishwater?

Please help!!! :stuck_out_tongue:


I don’t know where it originated by it’s basically ash blonde - a very light shade of brown. image

Compared to clear water or even nice sudsy water, dishwater is somewhat dull and not of a color you want to name (like platinum, ash, honey, etc.). It’s rather like an overcast day. These are closer to my impression than the sample given above:

Wiki sez:

I definitely associate “dishwater blond” with that streaky, multi-shade look.

Interesting, Kimstu. I’d never heard of the streakiness. This definition is what I’m familiar with: “dull yellow: describes blond or yellow hair that is unattractively dull or pale in color.”

Scanning the Google first page for this suggests that there are other definitions in use, as well.

I like my definition and explanation of the term because they mesh so well together. :slight_smile:

It’s not a colour anyone chooses so much as something some are born with.

Google pics of DW blondes



:confused: Those middle two, I would call brunette. Maybe the last one as well.

Me too. The last three are all shades of brown, not blonde.

I think dishwater blonde apparently means “I was blonde as a child and it remains part of my self-image so I will describe myself as blonde whatever the actual color”

I always thought of ‘dishwater blonde’ as being dull and slightly brownish. Along the same uncomplimentary spectrum as ‘mousy’.

I will add that GaryT’s second link is exceedingly cute. :slight_smile:

Same here. My mother and 2 sisters were all three “dishwater blonde”, also “dirty blonde” and their hair looked like the second photo on this page.

I agree. Most dish water blondes were real blondes as kids. Their hair got darker as adults. But, they still have blonde streaks.

So do I, but considering how many self-professed “blondes” I’ve met have light (or not so light!) brown hair, I don’t think many will admit it :stuck_out_tongue:

I doubt that many people describe themselves as “dishwater blonde”, because it suggests a dull or unattractive shade. “Dark blonde” sounds better.

I always understood it to be unequivocally blonde, but dull and lifeless and blah, and usually limp too. In my experience, it is always used pejoratively.

Dirty blonde, on the other hand, is what I’ve always heard the streaky natural blonde hair called. It had no negative connotations. The dirty blondes I grew up with were definitely proud of it.

Dishwater, mousy, dirty, etc are just the less complimentary words usually used for people with hair on the border of most people’s mental definitions of ‘blonde’ and ‘brunette’.

When I hear ‘dishwater’ I think of more ashy (gray) shades, but my blondish-brown hair has red tints and I’ve still been called ‘dishwater’ many a time.

My hair is this color. I actually don’t like any of these words for it , and if pressed, I’ll answer that it’s dark blond or light brown, depending on the season. (It gets lighter in the summer and darker in the winter.)

Yes, my hair was very blond as a child, but I don’t have any particular attachment to being called a blond as an adult.

After all, someone had to look at someone else’s dishwater and say, “Hey, my hair is that color!” Or did they? Who would be willing to call their hair color ofter dirty water anyway? So I’d like to narrow this down, now that I’ve gotten plenty of answers as to what the color is (with pictures even!), can any of you tell me where the phrase first appeared, or at least when!


“Dirty blond” is attested in 1912, so I’d bet that “dishwater blond” is later.

I’m wondering if the phrase might originally have been related to the old expression “dull as ditchwater” (from the fact that water in a ditch is usually stagnant and murky, hence dull). Was the original expression for dull or streaky blond hair perhaps “ditchwater blond” which then morphed into “dishwater blond”?