Through Thick and Thin – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone that you will stand by them to the end? You could use “thick and thin” to describe your dedication to them. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The expression “through thick and thin” means that you dedicate and commit yourself to stand by someone, your words, a project, or an ideology – until the end. It’s a way of saying that you are prepared to weather the storm and overcome any obstacle to achieve a goal or result.

No obstacle will stand in your way, and no one can sway you from your purpose. You are someone that other people can rely on. When you dig your teeth into something, you don’t let go.

Example Usage

"Mike stuck with the company through thick and thin. He's a loyal employee, and I think it's time we rewarded him with a promotion."

"Thanks for sticking with me through thick and thin. You didn't have to be there for me when I contracted cancer, but you stuck with me through it all."

"Thanks for being with me through thick and thin. Our relationship is strong, and you are my rock; I don't know where I would be without you."

"We went through hell and back and stuck it out through thick and thin to get this far. Giving up now would be pointless."

"There is some value to persisting through thick and thin. You gain life experience, and you learn how to overcome challenges."

“We need to stick by those we love through thick and thin. It’s when times get rough that people show their true colors.”

Let’s defend our friends through thick and thin. They don’t deserve to be on the receiving end of this, and we can help them out.”


The expression, through thick and thin" originates from the saying "through thicket and thin wood." This saying came from offering a concise description of progress through the 'thick' countryside. The phrase appears in Old and Middle English, with the literal "thicket or thin wood," appearing some centuries earlier.

The earliest written recording of a variation of the saying comes from "The Reeve's Tale," written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the late 1300s. It appears as follows.

"And when the horse was loose, he begins to go

Toward the fen, where wild mares run

And forth with "wehee," (through thick and through thin)."

The earliest use of the modern version of the saying comes from "A Saint Or a Brute: The Certain Necessity and Excellency of Holiness," a religious text written by Richard Baxter in 1662. The phrase appears as follows.

"Men do fancy a necessity (of holiness) where there is none, yet that will carry them through thick and thin."

Phrases Similar to Through Thick and Thin

  • Against all odds.
  • Weather the storm.
  • Stick it out.

Phrases Opposite to Through Thick and Thin

  • Easy street.
  • Untested.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Thick and thin.

Ways People May Say Through Thick and Thin Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with cold cuts, cheese, or slicing things. In this case, the “thick and thin” is a reference to lean times or an economic downturn. It refers to challenges popping up in life that test your commitment to other people, projects, or entities.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Through Thick and Thin

You can use the phrase “thick and thin” to describe someone or something's commitment and dedication to someone else, a project, or a company. It means to persist through the odds, regardless of what you have to endure. The phrase suits social and professional use.

Use it at work to tell your boss how you stuck with the company through thick and thin, and he doesn’t have to worry about your loyalty to the firm. Use it at home to tell your partner how you’re grateful they stuck with you during the hard t9imes in your relationship.

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