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This expression is from the movie There's Something About Mary:

She put a lot of weight, about a deuce and a half.

Is this used to refer to overweight people? The only reference I could find is from some American Army truck.

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3 Answers 3

The expression is from military slang for a large truck — that weighs two (a deuce) and a half tons.

I hadn't come across this expression before, but I have to say it doesn't seem very apposite to me. My car weighs nearly 2 tons, so a 2.5-ton truck doesn't sound particularly big to me. Wikipedia agrees, saying there are 8 truck categories — the lightest of which is for anything under 3 tons.

Anyway, it's not exactly "common", but here are a few dozen instances of "she's a deuce and a half" showing that it's far from unknown (even if the scale factor is a bit off).

Per comments below — unquestionably "a deuce and a half" is military slang, but it refers to the load-carrying capacity of the truck, not total weight. And Urban Dictionary's 2.5 x 100lbs = 250lbs is, well, an urban legend sort of rationalisation.

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It's not a reference to the truck's weight, but rather its load capacity. They can carry 2.5 T off the road, or 5 tons on the road. The truck itself weighs a good 6 or 7 tons! I drove one for the US Army for many years, many years ago. The technical term is the M35. –  Mark Beadles May 11 '12 at 20:56
    
@Mark Beadles: That would make more sense. Can you confirm that the term really is used for trucks? A plausible alternative is that it's from 2.5 x 100lbs - a woman who weighs something in the order of 250lbs. –  FumbleFingers May 11 '12 at 21:09
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Oh, it's the trucks all right. We never called the trucks anything but "deuce-and-a-halfs". The official M35 designation was strictly for paperwork. Extremely widespread in the US Army, so much so that if that's not the source you'd have to prove otherwise! –  Mark Beadles May 11 '12 at 21:15
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@FF: I certainly understood “deuce and a half” in this context (an American talking about body mass, with the added implication it’s excessive and/or unattractive) to mean 250 lb. (Which would give somebody Cameron Diaz’s height [1.75 m, according to IMDB] a BMI of 37...) –  Brian Nixon May 11 '12 at 21:38
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@Brian Nixon: It's not uncommon that the original reason for an idiom becomes lost to later speakers - who then invent some other rationalisation that actually makes more sense, and helps the idiom gain wider currency. –  FumbleFingers May 11 '12 at 22:19

In this context "deuce and a half" has nothing to do with the military truck. It is instead slang for a large person in the neighborhood of 250 pounds. Urban Dictionary defines the term as "a woman that weighs in the neighborhood of 250 pounds." Men also can be described as such, including news about the football player for which "recent internet rumors had... pushing the deuce-and-a-half mark (a.k.a. 250 pounds)." Yahoo answers also features a reply about "cool army nicknames" in which a fellow notes that his was deuce and a half because "I'm a big guy over 6 feet and while I was in the army I was about 250 pounds ex-football type."

On a related note, "deuce and a quarter" is the nickname for the Buick Electra 225 automobile, which was produced from the 1950s-80s.

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It's not disputed that "deuce-and-a-half" is often used to refer to a large person attributed to be about 250 lbs. But the reason that this is an English expression at all is that it was first used in reference to the 2 1/2-ton capacity military truck. –  Mark Beadles May 21 '12 at 20:28
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The question was about meaning in context of an individual, not about the origin of the term. The questioner noted knowledge about the truck and asked for another definition. –  Bill Lefurgy May 21 '12 at 21:11

The term deuce and a half is for certain, slang for the military truck. And if you do a Google search, you will see it is not some light weight truck – it's BIG.

So, when used in the reference of a person's weight you can be sure it's not a term of endearment. As posted above, it could represent 250 pounds (200 for deuce and 50 for the half) – still it is not a term of endearment.

(Just a warning: if you say this to a woman, duck, because you are about to be punched).

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This being an English language Q&A site, please ensure proper capitalization, etc., before posting an answer. –  Kris Dec 1 '13 at 5:34

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