1

I came across this phrase around 20 years ago, and have always understood it to mean 'most of'. I might complain about having to pay "the thick end of £4" for a coffee, when it cost somewhere between £3.00 and £3.99. That meaning sounds fairly obvious to me. I'm in the UK.

Imagine my surprise when I used it in company recently, and it was interpretted differently. That a "journey would take the thick end of 9 hours" was received as not as the "around 8 hours 45 minutes" that I meant, but as "over 9 hours, possibly a lot over". Is this reasonable?

I have looked on the net, and the best I can come up with was this (right at the bottom, References in classic literature) which has many examples, but still no definition.

Can anyone find a published definition, an argument for what the interpretation should be, or at least moral support for my interpretation?

  • Since this is a question about an idiom, you might want to add a location tag to this question, since often those are regional in use. I'm guessing you're probably asking about the UK, but you didn't explicitly say. – nick012000 Aug 18 '18 at 9:30
  • oxforddictionaries: the thick end of - (informal) the greater part of (something). Personally I don't think you could reasonably call any value less than £3.50 "the thick end of £4". By that logic, someone might say £110 was "the thick end of £200", which sounds like nonsense to me. So the fact that OP himself has what I consider to be a non-standard understanding of the scope of the idiomatic usage implies it's hardly surprising if others have different understandings too. – FumbleFingers Aug 18 '18 at 12:38
  • What a delightful expression for roughly or about. Going back in time, there must have been a smooth end as well. Whatever could this be? A boardroom came from guys having meetings over a board and standing around it. I wonder about this one.... – Lambie Aug 18 '18 at 13:02
1

You are correct!

the thick end of OED

It is a British idiom. Oxford dictionary explains it as:

(informal) The greater part of (something)

"he was borrowing the thick end of £750 every week."

Your sentence "journey would take the thick end of 9 hours" in this context, roughly means, it will take almost 9 hours, but not more than 9 hours. In other words, it will take greater part of 9 hours.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.