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Re: Fed up

Posted by Graham Cambray on February 05, 2009 at 00:57

In Reply to: Re: Fed up posted by ESC on February 04, 2009 at 23:57:

: : I would like to know the origin of the phrase I am "fed up with you". Where does "fed up" come from?

: I'm not sure what this means exactly. But to get the discussion ball rolling:

: Fed to the gills - Thoroughly disgusted. It is an American version of the British "fed to the (back) teeth" and fed (up) to the eyelids. Eyelids based on the slang meaning of "gills" for mouth. From "Facts on File Dictionary of Cliches," second edition, edited by Christine Ammer, Checkmark Books, New York, 2006. Page 137.


The UK meaning is weaker than "fed to the gills". "Fed up to the back teeth" has been intensified by the second part of the phrase, too.
The Concise OED has "discontented or bored". As in "I'm fed up with all this snow we've been having" - which is true in my case. The phrase is generally used for something which is felt to have been going on for too long.

Another forum ( says: British slang first recorded 1900, extended to U.S. by World War I.

I think that ESC's response (gills/back teeth/eyelids) suggests that the meaning evolved from "having as much food as you can take" to "having experienced as much of something else as you can take". But I don't have references to back this up. (GC)