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Bag o'nails

Posted by Lewis on July 25, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Thick as a brickie? posted by Kit on July 25, 2003

: : : : : : : ok, so I'm a huge Jethro Tull fan, and I assume the meaning is to be stupid, a simpelton. I would just like to know the origin of the phrase. How thick were the bricks? Why bricks? Thanks

: : : : : : Not sure of the origin, but he says "thick as a brick" because it rhymes more than anything else!

: : : : : In Britain it's often as 'thick as two planks'. I've never heard the 'brick' version, but I guess any object could be used. In WW1 there was a charitable organisation called 'Toc H' who helped the troops near the front line - cups of tea, comfort, etc. They usually could be indentified by a dim light outside their tent/hut. This caused the development of a then current phrase to describe someone as 'dim as a Toc H lamp'.

: : : : There's "dumb as a box of rocks" and "dumb as a bag of hammers," too. I suppose the common thread is the heavy unchangingness of these humble objects, in contrast to the nimbleness of a lively mind, which would call up lighter, quicker objects as metaphors. "You rocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things" as Shakespeare would have it.

: : : I had never heard "thick as a brick" before Ian Anderson coined it. Internal rhyme is not uncommon and the quirky delivery of said fluting maestro creates those memorable lines.

: : : Anderson's delivery of such individual lines as "The Minstrel in the gallery" "Aqualung, my friend" or "songs from the wood" is memorable through his superb delivery.
: : : A near-shaven IA was quite a surpise when I finally go to see Tull a few years back.

: : : "Thick as two short planks" would seem the standard, along with imports such as "dumb as a bag of spanners" and "box of rocks".

: : "bag of spanners" wouldn't be an import from the U.S. We don't use the word "spanners." On this side of the pond, they're "wrenches,"

: In England we also say "She's got a face like a bag of spanners", meaning that a girl is particularly ugly. We're horrible like that, we are.

Anybody use "bag o'nails" to say something is rough?
(a mechanic I knew used to saw a bad car "drove like a bag o'nails" and I picke dup the expression from him.