Heard on ESPN

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 23 04:59:30 UTC 2012

Here is the basic non-scatological version of the saying in 1902.
(There are earlier instances of the phrase "built like a brick wall'
applied to physiques. I restricted the search to brick buildings.)

Cite 1902 June 28, Denver Post, Revising Lessons for the Young, Page
1, Column 2, Denver, Colorado. (GenealogyBank)
[Begin excerpt]
Rev. Dr. Potts is a sturdy old Scotchman, built like a brick house. He
stood bolt upright for a moment and gazed out over the audience, his
wiry gray beard sticking out aggressively.
[End excerpt]

Cite: 1906 July 10, Augusta Chronicle, Shippy Lost The Ball in Macon
Yesterday, Page 10, Augusta, Georgia. (GenealogyBank)
[Begin excerpt]
When Shippy crossed the plate after making his home run some one
shouted: "Have you  been arrested this week yet, Shippy?"
"Naw," responded the third sacker, who is built like a brick house
"but I have just started the week and ain't out of Macon yet"
[End excerpt]

There is an earlier instance of "She's as solid as a brick church
here." But it does not refer to physique.

Cite: 1899 December to 1900 May, Harper's Monthly Magazine, Volume
100, A Failure of Justice by Frederic Remington, Start Page 267, Quote
Page 269, Harper's Magazine Co. (Google Books full view)
[Begin excerpt]
And his new acquaintance leaned over and whispered: "She's on  the
squar', pard: she's a plumb good woman, and this plaza sort of stands
for her. She's as solid as a brick church here."
[End excerpt]

The following sentence is about a ship. GB labels it with an 1885
date, but it is really in a 1906 issue of Outing magazine:

[Start excerpt]
The Porgie was built like a brick house and certainly was "hefty," so
one after another the beach-combers were called upon to lend a hand
until there were about eight of them heaving on the line.
[End excerpt]


On Sat, Jun 23, 2012 at 12:28 AM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Heard on ESPN
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Smith appears to try to elevate a fairly vulgar phrase to the level of
> praise. He also adds "chiseled", which makes for a mixed metaphor.
> Twitterverse is fairly sensitive to Smith's verbiage. It's not the first
> time his descriptive flourishes are being mocked.
>     VS-)
> On 6/22/2012 9:33 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> On Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 1:22 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> "... built like a chiseled brickhouse". That, of course, of Lebron James... The > comment has already caused a round of mockery on Twitter.
>> What's the basis of the mockery? Memories of the old disco hit:
>> "[_She's_ a] *Brick House*"?
>> --
>> -Wilson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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