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Brick s'house

Posted by R. Berg on April 09, 2001

In Reply to: Brick House posted by Jerry on April 09, 2001

: : : : I'm looking for the origin of the phrase "She is built like a brick ****house".I hope this is not offensive. I know what it means, but do not know the origin or beginnings. Thanks for any help.

: : : I'll post again if I find anything in my references. From my own knowledge, I can tell you that outhouses (privies) are usually humble affairs made of wood. A brick outhouse would be a fine structure indeed. Though not very practical since outhouses had to be moved from time to time to a fresh spot.

: : : So the phrase "built like a brick outhouse" carried over to refer to a woman who has a fine structure.

: : : It's a rural U.S. expression since few city folk have outdoor toilets. There was a song by a black group:

: : Brick House (lyrics)
: : By the Commodores

: : Chorus:
: : She's a brick----house
: : Mighty mighty, just lettin' it all hang out
: : She's a brick----house
: : The lady's stacked and that's a fact,
: : ain't holding nothing back.

: : She's a brick----house
: : She's the one, the only one,
: : who's built like a amazon
: : We're together everybody knows,
: : and here's how the story goes.

: : Verse:
: : 1. She knows she got everything
: : a woman needs to get a man, yeah.
: : How can she use, the things she use
: : 36-24-36, what a winning hand!
: To ESC, thanks for the response. Enjoyed the extra material.

In the first edition of "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British," Eric Partridge called this a 20th-century low Canadian phrase, "applied to a very well-made fellow." Later he added more, including these extracts: "It has a much wider application and distribution than I had supposed . . .In Brit., as elsewhere, it is usu. used of a female: author Brian Aldiss remarks that [it] is 'a term of decided admiration for what is at once solid and female'; he thinks that the catchphrase 'must date from at least early C20, when such buildings had scarcity value'. It migrated to Aus., where it was extant in 1978 . . . Fain, 1978, notes that 'built . . .' 'became prevalent in the US at a time when most outdoor ****houses were made of wood, and a brick ****house was really something to write home about'; he dates it from c. 1900 or a decade earlier. . . ."

A mere speculation of mine: Besides its connotations of solidity and luxury (by comparison with the usual rickety wooden alternative), maybe the phrase owes some of its aptness to the fact that bricks in a building, like the women the phrase describes, are stacked, whereas lumber in a building is not.