tight as a tick

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 20 18:18:13 UTC 2007

I feel like Darla. There's something weird about KC's use of "tight as
a tick." For me, "tight," in the relevant context, already means
"drunk." WRT a tick, it's literally stuck tight(ly) to its host. It's
not merely (very) close. So, "tight as a tick" means "a degree of
drunkeness equivalent to the degree of tightness with which a tick
sticks to its host." "Tight" doesn't mean "close" in "tight as a


On Dec 20, 2007 10:57 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: tight as a tick
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 9:34 AM -0600 12/20/07, Darla Wells wrote:
> >I was watching the news last night and saw that Katie Couric described the
> >South Carolina presidential race between Obama and Clinton as being "tight as
> >a tick." I always understood the expression to mean that someone had had too
> >much to drink. Interesting implications if it means what I was taught...
> >Darla
> >
> This seems like the same kind of polysemic transfer found elsewhere
> in the use of these fixed similes.  "High as a kite", for example, is
> used both for chemical-free elation and, well, the other kind. Cf.
> also "queer as a three-dollar bill".
> LH
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