What is the origin of the phrase "do me a solid"?

The definition I am referring to:

do me a solid

do something for someone as an act of kindness; do someone a favor.

Example usage:

Hey Bob, can you do me a solid and help me move out of my apartment?

An attempt at googling this found really different answers ranging from Seinfeld to drug usage.

  • It appears to date from the '60s. Here's an early reference in Time Magazine offering the first definition / equation I could find between "do me a solid" (and similar phrases) and the sense of favor. The sense of favor doesn't seem too far afield semantically from the rest of the word's denotations and connotations. I didn't find this "favor" sense listed in Etymoline or the OED, but you do see such usages as "exemplary, outstanding" in 1920s jazz slang, or the more familiar "solid person" meaning "dependable". All seem thematically related to modern "favor" sense.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 25, 2016 at 17:40
  • 2
    I've always assumed that the progression was "Do me a favor" => "Do me a solid favor" => "Do me a solid". (While it was no doubt occasionally used with a wink to imply a sexual act, I've never gotten the impression that that was a "normal" meaning.)
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 25, 2016 at 18:11
  • Interesting this is the second recent question on this phrase english.stackexchange.com/q/334112/131620
    – k1eran
    Jul 25, 2016 at 19:05
  • The phrase may have evolved from a different sense of "favor", the one about "approval or preference", as this ngram shows: books.google.com/ngrams/… or from the phrase "solid favor with": google.com/…
    – user180089
    Jul 25, 2016 at 19:09
  • @DanBron Solid lasts at least through the 40's in jazz slang. Perhaps a Tommy Dorsey number? -Too many albums to remember which song. May 3, 2018 at 2:48

9 Answers 9


Do me a solid meaning "do me a favor" (ODO) is an AmE slang expression whose origin, despite its recent usage, remains unclear. The issue is why "solid" came to mean "favour". Among different hypotheses (solid meaning drugs, for instance) the "truncation" one appears the most interesting. Do me a solid "favour" is also predated by expressions like, "do me a solid "service". Earliest usages date back to the '60s, but the expression was made popular by a TV show in the 1990s. The following extract has the story:

  • Semantic/pragmatic note: some commenters on the net treat solid simply as a stylistic variant of favor — and a few consequently deride it as needless slang — but some people see a subtle difference between the two, with favor suggesting reciprocity (do me a favor, I’ll do one for you) and solid conveying a commitment without expectation of payback.

  • Historical note: The use is specifically American and is associated with the young and hip. New Partridge has cites back to 1973 (in Connie Eble’s compilation of UNC college slang). Some sources suggest that the origin of solid ‘favor’ lies in drug use (from solid ‘drug in resin form’, presumably truncated from solid dope or solid hash). Here’s one potential example of solid in a drug context:

  • “Say, you like sick, like you need a fix / Perhaps I can do some solids for you.” (Dennis Wepman et al., The Life, 1976, cited in New Partridge)

  • New Partridge has this under solid ‘favour’ but it seems more likely to be a drug use. The semantic development from ‘solid dope’ to ‘favor’ is hard to work out, and solid could easily arise as a nouning by truncation independently in different contexts: from solid N (N = dope, hash, etc.) in a drug context, from something like solid favor in other contexts — and, indeed, from solid pipe in still other contexts and from solid N (N = dope ‘information’, information, etc.).

  • My proposal is that solid ‘favor’ is a nouning by truncation, around in U.S. slang for about 40 years (at least). But it’s surged in the last 20 years, almost surely through the influence of the tv show Seinfeld. From “The Jacket”, first broadcast 2/6/91:

    • (Enter Kramer) KRAMER: Hey. Hey, would you do me a solid?
      JERRY: Well, what kind of solid?
      KRAMER: I need you to sit in the car for two minutes while it’s double-parked. I gotta pick up some birds.
      JERRY: Birds? […]
      JERRY: I can’t. I’m on my way out. There’s no way I can do it.
      KRAMER: George, do me a solid? Two minutes.
      GEORGE: Well, I’m going with him. I’d like to, I’ve never done a solid before.
      KRAMER: Alright.. yeah.. alright, have a good one. (Kramer leaves)


  • 2
    I've always assumed that, like noted here, "a solid" is a truncation of the longer phrase "a solid favor" and that "solid" is used to emphasize that this favor asked for is one of substance and special import and not just some simple task. Feb 8, 2019 at 20:04

It appears to originate from "do a solid favour", which appears along the earliest uses of "do a solid" in the '60's:

Someone could do our young couple a solid favor by presenting them with an up-to-date, standard work of quotations.


It's notable that it rhymes on solidarity, which offers precisely the semantics that are needed to explain "do me a solid".

From wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/solidarity):

quotations ▼

A long time union member himself, Phil showed solidarity with the picketing grocery store workers by shopping at a competing, unionized store.

Only the solidarity provided by her siblings allowed Margaret to cope with her mother's harrowing death

Why this should have been clipped is easy to see. The adjective solidary is a bit of a moutful, and allusion to solid = strong, real makes it a neat wordplay, albeit demoting it to a mere emphatic.

Update: search for "solidary favor[u]r" yield absolutely no results, but also show that the word is an odd-ball in English, often confused with solitary, and google suggesting "solidarity" instead, yielding a few insignificant results for "solidarity favor" (often with favors as a verb) and "Solidarity's favor" (which in many cases seems to be using the proper name of a political entity in Australia?).

Anyhow, a look at the etymology section over at wiktionary reveals that solidarity derives through French from Latin solidum, which indeed meant solid. So the admitted allusion seems to be more than mere coincidence.


I'm a senior citizen, and although I'm not old enough to have used the original expression, I always heard it referred initially to borrowing 25 cents. I don't remember why the actual quarter was needed rather than the 25 cents, but the request was "can I get 25 cents from you? But I need the actual solid quarter," hence the 'solid.' And that eventually morphed into can you do me a particular favor?


The phrase could also refer to something real or tangible = solid (as opposed to lip service :)), even such thing as a solid handshake held great meaning. Also around the time of the origin of this phrase, currency was still on the gold standard (as in solid gold and guaranteed 1:1), again, something tangible and that you could count on.


I'm not a native english speaker, and this is no more than hypothesis, but couldn't it be derived from solidarity?

If I'm asking someone a favour I'm actually asking him to show some solidarity, don't I? (like I'm telling him: "Hey, we are actually connected as a single solid material, hence, it will be better for both of us if you help me")


See Wikipedia: Solidus, abt the Roman (and later) coins. Surely a ref to sound money, a metaphor evoking mutual commitment, dependency, and reliance between peers in tasks that require teamwork (and, especially, entail risk).

  • 1
    I skimmed through the wiki on solidus but there's no relevant text in it referring to the phrase "do me a solid". Can you explain how you get the connection to solidus and quote the relevant text from the wiki? Also please update your Wikipedia reference with a direct link.
    – NVZ
    Apr 18 at 20:42

Cab Calloway's Cat-ologue from 1938 (and the following Hepsters Dictionary from 1944) defines "solid" as (adj): great, swell, okay.

It would seem the adjective got nominalized so "Do me a solid" would simply be "Do a good thing for me."


The solidarity association with solid is weak at best, and favor and solidarity are about as semantically related as bovine and forsnizzle. However, I believe that the “solid” is an extraordinary favor that would bear an extraordinary indebtedness. For example; “Hey Bill, can I borrow your wheelbarrow to move some mulch?”, would be asking a favor, but “Hey Bill, can I borrow your new Corvette to impress my new girlfriend?”, would be asking a solid.

  • 1
    This doesn't address the question which was about the origin of the expression. May 5, 2021 at 23:12
  • While the response does not directly address the origin of the phrase “do me a solid”, it does pare away the dubious and improbable solidarity etymology as the potential origin. Debunking unlikely etymologies removes the noise so one can focus on fact. To be clear, there is absolutely no semantic, connotative or intensive relationship between favor and solidarity. Furthermore, solid and solidarity do not rhyme. May 6, 2021 at 0:35

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