phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

A night on the tiles.

Posted by Gary on May 05, 2000

In Reply to: A night on the tiles. posted by Louise 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!

: Louise

The Australians are top of the tree in this linguistic area (I wonder why?). Check this list of 'vomit' expressions.

I especially like 'Calling for Huey' - has a certain onomatopoeic charm.


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