Posted by Louise on May 05, 2000
In Reply to: A night on the tiles. posted by ESC 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.
We call that talking to God on the big white telephone or praying to Armitage Shanks [makers of fine porcelain].
The young lady in question certainly looked as if she had been well and truly debauched to me!