Skip to Content

What Does “Through Thick And Thin” Mean? When to use?

What Does “Through Thick And Thin” Mean? When to use?

One expression you will always come across either when reading, listening to people speak, or even watching educative or entertainment videos is “through thick and thin.” Although many people use this expression, many are ignorant of the meaning, so they misuse it in sentences and speeches.

“Through Thick And Thin,” an idiomatic expression that means to stay with someone or something under any circumstance, either pleasant or worse, without backing out. An example of the idiomatic expression is, “A true Manchester United Club fan will support the club through thick and thin.”

With this bit of explanation on what the expression “through thick and thin” means, you should have an insight into what this article will contain. You are guaranteed a complete insight into the meaning and correct usage of the idiom “through thick and thin.”

holding hands

What Does The Expression “Through Thick And Thin” Mean?

Idiomatic expressions are informal language with a meaning different from the meaning of the words in the phrase. It is okay to say idiomatic expressions have two meanings, the connotative and the denotative meaning. The denotative meaning is the phrase’s literal meaning, while the connotative meaning is the expression’s hidden meaning.

Every language has its idiomatic expressions, and they are almost similar to proverbs or proverbial phrases. The only difference is proverbs are words of wisdom, advice, and guidance, while idioms are just expressions with a deeper meaning.

We will dive into the meaning of the idiomatic expression “through thick and thin.” You need to understand the meaning because to use the expression correctly in a sentence depends on how well you understand it.

The idiomatic expression “through thick and thin” means staying and supporting a person through problems, difficulties, good things, and pleasure. It also means to be with someone for a very long time, even when times are callous and very pleasurable.

You will notice that the first two meanings describe the relationship between two people; the expression can also mean to do something even when the surrounding situation is challenging and unpalatable.

The expression “through thick and thin” can also mean handling, surviving, and last through the good times and the bad times and is used when describing a relationship’s situation.

When you use the expression, it can also mean to be loyal to a cause despite all the trials and persecution encountered. Furthermore, it can also mean to endure any form of obstacle or hardship.

These meanings should provide a clear understanding of what the expression infers when you use it in a sentence.

quill pen

The Origin Of The Expression “Through Thick And Thin”

The expression “through thick and thin” is one of the oldest idioms used in the English language. Moreover, the usage dates back to the 10th century, and it first appeared in a poetry collection called the “Exeter Book.”

Over many centuries, this phrase has maintained its figurative meaning, and no changes have been made to the idea the expression conveys. The expression was first used when England was still largely wooded, had few roads, and an area called “wood pasture,” where animals grazed.

When England was full of forest, the only way people made it to their destination was by taking paths and roads; that was where the phrase was coined out from. “Through thicket and thin wood,” a description of the path in the forest that they took.

The phrase became widely used in the 1300s when Geoffrey Chaucer included it in one of his writings, “The Reeve’s Tale”, a part of his “Canterbury Tales”, he used the short form “through thick and thin.”

A lot of other writers have used the phrase since it became popular. In 1590, Edmund Spencer, a writer used it in one of his writings; Richard Baxter used it in his religious text in 1662. This phrase has been in use in Old, Middle, and New English, surviving through centuries while still retaining its meaning.

How People Use The Phrase “Through Thick And Thin”

The phrase “through thick and thin” is used to describe when a person sticks to or stays by someone or something through both bad and good situations without falling out or abandoning the person.

Another way to use the expression is to do something even when all the circumstances and conditions are challenging and unpleasant. You make up your mind to do a thing, and you do it regardless of any difficulty you encounter.

You can also use the expression “through thick and thin” to describe the state of a relationship you have with someone, your decision to stand by them through either unpleasant and pleasant conditions or circumstances.

When you use the idiomatic expression metaphorically instead of literally, the “thick” describes the difficulties, and bad situations and the “thin” describes the pleasant and favorable part of life.

Most people perceive the ability to persevere “through thick and thin” as a good and positive trait that shows determination and commitment rather than backing out or giving up when it gets complicated.

It would be best if you took note that the expression “through thick and thin” has nothing to do with body transformation, crash dieting, or losing weight. Some people use the expression to describe losing weight, and the phrase does not describe it.

When a person provides support, encouragement, and care to a person passing through a difficult phase in life without leaving or giving up on the person, you say the person is with him “through thick and thin.”

The idiomatic expression “through thick and thin” is used to describe the character of perseverance and hope. You only use it when a person stays with another person through difficult times without giving up or letting go.

You do not use the expression when a person is only around another person through the good times alone. Neither can you use it when someone only sticks around a person’s life for a while and leaves.

An example that shows how you can use the phrase is that John is an undergraduate student who has to work three jobs to take care of himself and sponsor his education; he has a girlfriend named Sheila, an undergraduate, but her parents take care of her. Sheila’s decision to stay with John despite all odds is explained using the phrase “through thick and thin.” However, if she decides to leave John and go for another guy because of his situation, you cannot use the phrase.

book examples

Illustrative Examples Of The Use Of The Phrase “Through Thick And Thin”

Our next focus is to provide examples that clarify how best to use the expression “through thick and thin”.

  1. The best thing that could happen to a person is to have friends and families willing to stay by you through thick and thin.
  2. A tiny percentage of soccer fans remain loyal to their soccer clubs through thick and thin; a more significant percentage only stay during the thin period and never the thick period.
  3. David’s great-grandfather has been following the state’s football club for more than 60 years, and he has supported them through thick and thin.
  4. If Mary is serious about keeping her relationship with Jude, she must put her fears aside and stand by him through thick and thin.
  5. Most ladies do not stay by their husbands through thick and thin because they married them for the good things they could enjoy.
  6. You rarely find people who managed to be successful despite all odds abandon their business because of losses, and they will stick with it through thick and thin.
  7. Any man who finds a woman that is willing to stay with him through thick and thin should count himself lucky among all men on the planet, earth.
  8. The significant difference between a wife and a girlfriend is, a wife stays with you through thick and thin, while a girlfriend only stays when things are rosy and pleasant.
  9. Dave and Daniel have been through good and bad times, through thick and thin, through pleasant and unpleasant, and they remained inseparable.
  10. The army soldiers must have sworn an oath to go through thick and thin to remain loyal and sacrifice their lives for their country and its citizens.
  11. Only the strong students survive through thick and thin during their years as students; the feeble do not, so they end up dropping out, although this is not a determinant of what they might eventually turn out to become.
  12. A man who cannot be loyal to a political party through thick and thin should not be trusted. He is fickle and can do anything to make himself feel good, even if it will affect the nation.

Other English Idioms

Final Thoughts

A fun fact is that the expression “through thick and thin” has survived through centuries, but it has retained its meaning. From the medieval days of the English language to modern times, the phrase’s meaning remains the same shows you what “through thick and thin means.”

Look around you, and you will see an example that explains the expression “through thick and thin.” Using the expression in a sentence should be fun, and with this knowledge, you can even use it in your speech.

Description of the image