The Washington Post

Literally, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

Here’s a cliche brought to life: They are literally rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

A crew member rearranges the deck chairs on the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. (CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS)

USA Today has a story about the idiom, “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” which is often used to describe a futile action in the face of impending catastrophe. The phrase was first used in print in 1969, in Time Magazine, in reference to reforms in the Catholic Church. The article notes that it was unlikely that the chairs were actually rearranged as the ship sank in 1912.

The Titanic Memorial Cruise hasn’t been quite as disastrous as its counterpart 100 years ago, but the voyage has met with bad weather and one medical evacuation. The ship expects to reach the spot where the original Titanic went down on Saturday.

View Photo Gallery: “Titanic” vaulted young Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to superstardom. Take a look at the film’s cast 15 years ago and now, as the film is re-released in 3-D for the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.


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