Tribune Print Share Text

Through thick and thin, out of the blue, marathon, amen

Created date

July 14th, 2016

Through thick and thin

When you say that you’ve been with someone “through thick and thin,” it means that you’ve been with them through it all—the good times and the bad, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. 

While we’re not certain precisely where it came from, the phrase is most likely a reference to horseback riding. In other words, you’ve ridden through everything from dense thickets to thinly vegetated countryside. You’ve been through it all.

“She’s my best friend. We’ve been together through thick and thin.”

Out of the blue

We use this phrase all of the time in daily conversation, specifically, when we’re talking about an event that happened as unexpectedly as something falling out of the clear blue sky. Like “through thick and thin,” we’re not entirely sure where “out of the blue” came from, but there are a few theories. 

First, it could be simply a matter of imagery with no direct link to a particular custom or occurrence. A second possibility, however, is that it comes from aerial dogfighting tactics dating back to the first air war in history, World War I. 

To this day, fighter pilots are trained to attack their opponents from above and with the sun behind them. This blinds the enemy, who won’t see the oncoming plane until it’s too late, almost as if his attacker dropped “out of the blue.”

“Out of the blue, he announced that he was retiring.” 

Marathon

Whether you’ve run one or not, it’s obvious that completing a marathon is no easy task. That’s because they’re traditionally more than 20 miles long. 

But why exactly do we call this sort of race a “marathon”? 

The answer takes us back to 490 B.C., when the Greeks fought and defeated the Persians at the city of Marathon. According to the ancient historian Herodotus, the Greek messenger Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens (a distance of 22 miles) carrying news of the victory. 

With this story in mind, people in the late nineteenth century began using the city’s name in reference to long-distance runs.

“This weekend, I’m running a marathon to help raise money for Alzheimer’s research.”

Amen

Used at the end of prayers in numerous religions, “amen” serves as a declaration of truth, validating all that is stated in a prayer or hymn. Of Hebrew origin, the word’s literal translation is “so be it.”

Though a religious term, “amen” has worked its way into modern, secular parlance as an expression of strong agreement.

“When he said that taxes should be lower, my first thought was, ‘Amen to that.’”

Comments