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the dismal science

A disparaging term for the discipline of economics, coined in 1849 by Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle as a label for the school of economists who supported the abolition of slavery. Economists have predicted that the exponential population growth will eventually cause our entire society to collapse in on itself—I suppose that is why they are known as practitioners of the dismal science.
See also: dismal, science
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

dismal science, the

Economics. The term is Thomas Carlyle’s, and he first used it in On the Nigger Question (1849), writing: “The social science—not a ‘gay science’ but a rueful—which finds the secret of this Universe in ‘supply and demand’ . . . what we might call, by way of eminence, the dismal science.” He repeated it the following year in a pamphlet, and it gradually caught on, becoming particularly popular among students struggling with the subject’s complexities.
See also: dismal
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Standing there, being happily drenched (happily because home was so close) in a downpour that seemed endless, I knew spring was coming Despite the dismalness of it all, there were bits of untidy purple and hesitant green at the tips of different trees and bushes.
When contemporary theologians say that certain dismalness in our actions can be justified by a proportionate reason, they are not saying that morally wrong actions (ex objecto) can be justified by the end.