tight as a tick

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Thu Dec 20 19:44:26 UTC 2007

For reasons that I don't know and lack the energy to analyze, I have always understood the proverbial simile "tight as a tick" (tight 'drunk') to feature the image of a very full, engorged tick--its skin (if that's the correct term) stretched TIGHT. Similarly(?), a human being is tight when he has inbibed too copiously. Perhaps in a vaguely analogous way, a miser (like his money bags) is stretched too tight with his possessions?


---- Original message ----
>Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007 13:51:36 EST
>From: RonButters at AOL.COM
>I would not find it odd to use this either in the sense "drunk," though the sense of "tight" found in "tightwad" always seemed to me to make the most sense (and, therefore, I assumed this to be the original sense). The use for "tight race" sounds weird, but only because it makes less sense in terms of the mental leap needed to make the connection--ticks are tight to the body (like a miser and her money). Less probably, drunk people clutch furniture and lampposts to stay erect. Ticks themselves do not seem particularly drunken.
>Do people really say "tight" for drunk these days? Sounds rather old-fashioned to me.
>I'm more than a little surprise that Dennis Preston did not find the parsimonious sense.
>I agree with Larry that these similes quickly get extended beyond theirs. I'd assume that "high as a kite" started with something more literal than drunkenness, though just what I can't imagine.

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