What does the idiom "through thick and thin" mean?

The phrase through thick and thin 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 through thick and thin.

Meaning of "through thick and thin"


The phrase “through thick and thin” is an idiom which means in all circumstances, good or bad. It implies steadfast devotion, loyalty, and resilience despite any obstacles.


This phrase is thought to have originated from the poem The Faery Queene by Edmund Spenser (1590). In the poem, a knight is tested for his loyalty for his beloved, and he responds with the phrase “Throgh thicke and thinne I will her serve alwayes.” It is believed that this phrase was then later shortened to the phrase we know and use today.


The phrase “through thick and thin” is frequently used to express one’s loyalty or commitment to something or someone. It is a metaphor that compares the difficult times or challenging experiences one goes through as thick obstacles, and light or joyous times as thin ones.

Example Sentences

  • My friendship with Jane has been through thick and thin, so I will always be there for her when she needs me.
  • We’ve been together through thick and thin for over fifteen years, and I can’t wait to spend more years with her.
  • I know we have our differences, but I love you through thick and thin.

The meanings of the words in the "through thick and thin" idiom

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.


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