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Pick the bones out of that

Posted by Richard Bradley on April 24, 2007

In Reply to: Pick the bones out of that posted by Stephen P on April 20, 2007

: "Pick the bones out of that"

: I'm an editor based in Munich and have been searching for a good definition and origin of this phrase (above) - it seems to be becoming increasingly popular (I even found it a couple of times in Hansard).

: Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks in advance!

Where I come from, in Derbyshire, UK, it is a phrase that is used in relation to coughing and spitting.

I will try not to be too gross here.

When a person has coughed up a considerable amount of phlegm we say "pick the bones out of that" meaning that phlegm was very big and I think it should have stayed inside my body. I may have inadvertantly coughed up something I shouldn't have.

"Cough up a lung"
"Cough up a kidney"
"Pick the lumps out of that"
"That one had lumps in it"


I come from a mining town and the miners were always coughing up coal dust etc so maybe that is where it comes from.