Thick as thieves
Posted by ESC on September 04, 2000
In Reply to: Thick as thieves posted by Bob on September 04, 2000
: : Does anyone know the actual meaning and/or origin of the phrase "thick as thieves"? I've been told that it means "numerous" as in "The mosquitos were as thick as thieves", but my understanding is that it means more like "close" as in "When the two cousins were up to no good they were as thick as thieves". Can anyone help?
: The OED says "close in confidence; intimate; familiar" There's a reference to 1833, but that quote calls it a proverb, so it's older.
The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985) says "thick as thieves" means "intimate, conspiratorially close." And it also refers to an 1833 quote -- from "The Parson's Daughter" by Theodore E. Hook. "She and my wife are thick as thieves, as the proverb goes."