Posted by ESC on May 05, 2000
In Reply to: A night on the tiles. posted by Louise on May 05, 2000
: : :
: : : I saw a young lady walking home on this nippy May morning. She was only wearing a flimsy evening dress and looked really rough having obviously spent a night on the tiles! But where does the phrase come from? I'd appreciate your help.
: : According to the OED:
: : on the tiles:
: : [after the nocturnal activities of cats] on a spree, on a debauch.
: : -------------
: : It doesn't seem to be a very old phrase. I can't find a reference of its use earlier than 1906 anyway.
: : (steady on Gary old bean - that's the kind of comment that usually precedes evidence of Shakespeare having learnt it from his granny or somesuch)
: : Gary
: Blimey that was quick!! Thanks very much, very interesting. And obvious once you think about it!
"British English A to Zed" by Norman W. Schur says: "night on the tiles -- Slang. This phrase is derived from the custom among cats of having fun at night on rooftops, which in Britain are often made of tiles." Similar to "night on the town."
I would have guessed it meant a night passed out on the bathroom tiles. As in, the U.S. (I guess) expression "driving the porcelain bus," being ill into the toilet.