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Thick as a brick

Posted by Duncan McGregor on March 19, 2000

In Reply to: Thick as a brick posted by Gary Martin on March 19, 2000

: : : I am trying to find the meaning and origin of the phrase Thick as a Brick. I believe its a Central European phrase. I already know it was used by Jethro Tull in a song of the same title but I do not believe it the phrase has its origins there. I believe the song is a pro-life statement but would like to understand the meaning of the title.

: : I thought it was a British phrase meaning stupid. But the No. 2 meaning here is something different: "thick -- adjective 1. stupid. a. 1800...'He must be as thick as two planks,' said Nick. 2. Brit. Unreasonable and intolerable; esp. in phr. 'a bit thick'..." From The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang by John Ayto & John Simpson (Oxford University Press, 1992).

: : We'll have to appeal to the British among us to sort this out.

: This is thick in the stupid sense. The bricks are housebricks which in the UK are usually around 9"x4"x3", i.e. short and thick - like short planks.

In these British Isles 'Thick as a brick' is used to describe someone who take a position which flies in the face of reason and who seems unable to see the stupidity of the position he/she has taken. The sort of person, for example, who insists that all Scots are drunken, violent, wasters whilst ignoring all evidence which points to the contrary conclusion. Such a person would, after all efforts to convince him/her of the error of their ways had failed, be classified by all and sundry as 'Thick as a Brick' or even 'as thick as two short planks'. More colourful phrases can also be used but perhaps this is not the right forum for such profane expletives