Through thick and thin

Posted by ESC on May 01, 2003

In Reply to: Thick and thin? posted by S. Ryan on May 01, 2003

: Any ideas on the origin of "through thick and thin?"

THROUGH THICK AND THIN - "Persistence in a task or in support of someone through both easy and difficult periods; overcoming everything that is in the way. The 'thick' and the 'thin' seem to have referred originally to the conditions encountered by a rider on a horse, who passes now through thickets of wood and now through areas where the growth is sparse or thin. The phrase is ancient enough to have appeared in 'The Exeter Book,' which is nearly 1,000 years old. Chaucer had it in his 'Canterbury Tales' c. 1386. Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen' suggests the origin:

His tyreling Jade he fiercely forth did push
Through thicke and thin, both over banck and bush.

From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).