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Stick out like a sore thumb.

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 04, 2004

In Reply to: Phrase origin posted by Caroline on October 04, 2004

: I am working on a language journal for college and found myself wondering where the phrase, "stuck out like a sore thumb" came from. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. I haven't been able to find it on any website with phrase origings. Thanks!

The OED, which defines the phrase as meaning being conspicuous or obvious, quotes for its two earliest examples Erle Stanley Gardner, author of numerous books about Perry Mason, whose exploits as detective need no introduction for most people.

"1936 E. S. GARDNER Case of Sleepwalker's Niece xiii. 128 'No,' he said, 'that's the one thing in the case that stands out like a sore thumb, now that I stop to think of it.' 1941 {emem} Case of Haunted Husband xvi. 126 A private detective in that atmosphere would stick out like a sore thumb on a waiter serving soup."