I am not asking about the meaning of the idiom "Line one's pockets". It is clear.

Line one's pockets:

to make much money, especially in an illegal or questionable way.

I wonder what line means here, and how it came to give the meaning above with the rest of the idiom.

Is this idiom that common today? Pick the scale you want.

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    Your link gives the definition of line in that context as "to cover the inner side or surface of", which seems perfectly suited to the meaning of the idiom...? – Hellion Dec 24 '14 at 14:41
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    If you have a coat with two layers you can cut a hole in the pockets so that you can stuff money into the inner lining of the coat, thus hiding it - and making the layer that keeps you warm made out of money, this may have a connection with people in need lining their coats with newspaper. – Mateo Dec 24 '14 at 18:38

As commented above, to line is to cover the inner surface of something. The illegal activity connotation comes with the sense that the taken money is of an amount that will easily go unnoticed. There's a sense of subtlety. When compared with the idiom "to fill one's pockets" you can get a feel for the difference. Outright theft versus stealthy embezzlement.

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  • Thanks for the helpful answer. You made @Chris's clearer. – learner Dec 24 '14 at 15:19

To line something in this context is to give it a lining, defined as "a covering or coating for an inside surface." Typically that lining would be cloth, but in this case it is money. It's a bit of a euphemism, a way to avoid saying the "dirty word" money.

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  • Your explanation of what line is, helped me get the idea, but @Coty's answer explains the analogy in more detail. His answer made sense only after yours though. – learner Dec 24 '14 at 15:18

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