Posted by Lewis on July 25, 2003
In Reply to: " Thick as a brick " posted by Bob on July 24, 2003
: : : : ok, so I'm a huge Jethro Tull fan, and I assume the meaning is to be stupid, a simpelton. I would just like to know the origin of the phrase. How thick were the bricks? Why bricks? Thanks
: : : Not sure of the origin, but he says "thick as a brick" because it rhymes more than anything else!
: : In Britain it's often as 'thick as two planks'. I've never heard the 'brick' version, but I guess any object could be used. In WW1 there was a charitable organisation called 'Toc H' who helped the troops near the front line - cups of tea, comfort, etc. They usually could be indentified by a dim light outside their tent/hut. This caused the development of a then current phrase to describe someone as 'dim as a Toc H lamp'.
: There's "dumb as a box of rocks" and "dumb as a bag of hammers," too. I suppose the common thread is the heavy unchangingness of these humble objects, in contrast to the nimbleness of a lively mind, which would call up lighter, quicker objects as metaphors. "You rocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things" as Shakespeare would have it.
I had never heard "thick as a brick" before Ian Anderson coined it. Internal rhyme is not uncommon and the quirky delivery of said fluting maestro creates those memorable lines.
Anderson's delivery of such individual lines as "The Minstrel in the gallery" "Aqualung, my friend" or "songs from the wood" is memorable through his superb delivery.
A near-shaven IA was quite a surpise when I finally go to see Tull a few years back.
"Thick as two short planks" would seem the standard, along with imports such as "dumb as a bag of spanners" and "box of rocks".