Submitted by Dyske  •  November 29, 2002

Potboiler

How did this word come to mean “a usually inferior work of art or literature produced chiefly for monetary return”?

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http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-pot1.htm

Michael Quinion's site is a good one for finding origins of words and phrases. Another good one is Evan Morris's www.word-detective.com.

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Purple Dragon's right again. A potboiler is a commercial project of no great moral or aesthetic significance that smooths out the jagged valleys of a freelancer's income.

I didn't know until this moment that painters use the term too. I know it from freelance writers.

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This is one explanation I found online:

POTBOILER: Formulaic works of art produced cheaply and quickly produced to satisfy a market demand -- usually for genre paintings -- and to make a modest income (i.e., to keep soup boiling in the pot). By extension, the term has come to mean any work considered to lack distinctive quality or originality.

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