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It was 7:30 in the morning, Arizona time, when I received an E-mail message from Angele, a friend in Ohio, that a mutual best friend, Sharon, had died two days earlier. Sharon was a lawyer who worked for the Lucas County Children Services Board. She was brilliant, as well as funny, and never missed a chance to engage in conversations about interesting and/or mundane subjects. As in all tragedies, Sharon’s passing was totally unexpected. But as intelligent as she was, Sharon never went to a doctor and she had terrible dietary and health habits, not the least of which was an incessant smoking habit. Sadly, the coroner’s diagnosis was cardiac arrest. Needless to say, Sharon will be sorely missed.

And, with this in mind, here are some idioms about friendship.

Thick as Thieves

The 20th Century meaning of this saying is to be very, very close; however, the saying has a convoluted history. In the 17th Century, thieves were described as being “thick,” as they typically kept to themselves. But it was not until the 18th Century (almost 100-years later!) when the word was first used to mean “closely allied with.” Earlier versions of “as thick as” were “peas in a shell” and “three in a bed,” which have fallen out of favor. But, both of these sayings suggest a special intimate relationship between people. The emergence of the word “thieves” in the simile suggests a secretive and conspiratorial partnership. This saying, however, has not been used in recent decades.

Like Two Peas in a Pod

We have all heard of/used this idiom over the years to describe a married couple, best friends or siblings in a family, but most people would not know that the saying was first used as early as in the 16th Century. Like many idioms, this one is used metaphorically to describe what the inside of a peapod looks like, where a person cannot tell one pea from the other. The first time this saying was used in print was in the 19th Century, specifically in the book “The Widow’s Choice,” by Catherine G. Ward.

I Know Him Inside and Out

This is another old idiom from the 16th Century and refers to a person who knows someone – quite thoroughly. Originally it was written as “inside to the outside,” and first appeared in print in Tarlton’s Jests, by Richard Tarlton, describing a character in the book, who is a clown (c) 1600:

“. . . Could you turne him inside out. . .”

It was in the 1800’s when the variant phrase, as we use it today, first appeared in print in The Dramatic Works of Baron Kotzebue, translated from German and published in New York:

"We have been in so many holes and corners together, that you know me both inside and out, as well as your own hammock."

“It’s crazy how someone who used to be a part of your life can be gone in a second. Anonymous


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