What does the idiom "thick-skinned" mean?

The phrase thick-skinned is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of thick-skinned.

Meaning of "thick-skinned"


The idiom "thick-skinned" is used to describe someone who does not take criticism or insults personally. This means that they are emotionally resilient and can ignore any snide remarks or unkind comments instead of becoming hurt or angry.


The phrase "thick-skinned" has been in use since the 16th century, but its true origin is unknown. It is thought to have derived from the thick skin of animals like rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses, which are essentially unaffected by stinging insects or the barbs of their predators. This endurance and resilience is what is known today as having a "thick skin".


The phrase is typically used as an adjective to describe a particular individual. For example, someone might say "He's a thick-skinned man, nothing can get him down!" or "She's a thick-skinned woman, able to take any criticism that comes her way".

Example Sentences

  • He's a thick-skinned person, so don't worry about hurting his feelings.
  • She's a thick-skinned individual who can handle any situation that comes her way.
  • I admire her for being so thick-skinned in the face of criticism.
  • He displayed a thick-skinned attitude when he was confronted with harsh words.

The meanings of the words in the "thick-skinned" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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