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The meaning and origin of the expression: Thick and fast

Thick and fast

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Thick and fast'?

If something comes 'thick and fast' it comes in rapid succession with little time to respond between events. It may refer to physical objects, like raindrops, or non-physical, like commands.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Thick and fast'?

Thick and fastThe term 'thick and fast' has been part of the English language since at least the days of Charles I of England. The earliest example I know of the phrase is found in the English playwright Thomas Middleton's satirical play, the title of which makes its contents abundantly clear - A game at chess as it was acted nine dayes to gether at the Globe on the banks side, 1625:

Lay your commands as thicke and fast vppon me

'Thick and fast' was predated by an earlier phrase 'thick and threefold' which has much the same meaning. An early example of that can be found in another work with an unambiguous title - The union of the two noble and illustrate famelies of Lancastre [and] Yorke. This book was published in 1548 by the English lawyer Edward Hall and is more commonly known as Hall's Chronicle:

When mo[re] newe Testamentes were Imprinted, thei came thicke and threfold into Englande.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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