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Your Thumb's Sticking Out

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Hey, Camp Fans!

There’s such an abundance of phrases and old sayings that are so woven into our everyday speech that, often enough, we won’t even realize it when we’re using them. These sayings are more specifically referred to as idioms or adages. Today’s featured saying is ‘Stick Out like a Sore Thumb’. When we say describe something as sticking out like a sore thumb, we mean that it is clearly out of place with the rest of its surroundings.

A similar saying that conveys the same message will refers to something showing up ‘Like a mustard spot in a coal mine’ as a bright yellow color is easy to detect against the black of coal. A bright yellow on black makes sense that it would really stand out. But what’s this business about a sore thumb? I never thought of a sore thumb as something particularly noteworthy.

So how did it find its place in such a commonly-used expression? Let’s start digging for the origin of today’s adage:

Folks have been using this phrase since at least the 1500s, but probably much further back than that. The saying does indeed come from the experience of a literal sore thumb and when your opposable digit has sustained some sort of injury, the bandage wrapped around your thumb tends to stick out—calling attention to itself like a flying being flown.

Really, you could probably say the same thing about any limb in a cast or significant bandaging, but for whatever reason, it was a ‘sore thumb’ that stuck. Well wishes to all of you that you’ll keep your thumbs and other limbs from requiring bandages, sticking out themselves, and forcing a thumbs up or hitchhiking gesture. I hope you don’t stick out. And, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Fans!


- John

Posted in Adage Origin


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