phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Facebook  Twitter

Full as a tick

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on February 21, 2010 at 17:58

In Reply to: Full as a tick posted by kmoore on February 19, 2010 at 19:55:

: What is origin of the phrase "full as a tick"? Some say the "tick" is the blood-sucking insect, but I've heard it could also mean a feather tick (mattress) and how firm or full it might be.

It dates at least from the 17th century; the first citation in the OED is from a collection of English proverbs published 1678. The OED unhesitatingly states that it refers to the bloodsucker, not the mattress. This makes sense because ticks, whenever one finds them on oneself or one's animals, are always swollen up tight (if they aren't, you can't easily find them), and their tightness and fullness is their most notable characteristic; whereas "full as a mattress/pillow" would really be pointless as a simile, since some mattresses and pillows are full, but others are not. (VSD)