as long as an arm, as long as a thumb

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Senior Member

I'd appreciate your help in the e following bald red phrases. Are they idioms or the writer just wanted to mock the person for her long neck and nose. I found a<< list as long as an arm>>. But do you use it for a long neck, as well? or do you use a thumb for a long nose?

In this affair between my husband, a fairly short person, and Thelma Rice, a fairly tall person with a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb.

From: Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Thank you

  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I've been wondering if they are even in any way figurative. They seem to me more comparisons than similes. Pace Egmont, I wouldn't call them metaphors.

    I agree they are not common idioms.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't think "as long as a thumb" is a set phrase.

    "As long as your arm", especially "a list as long as your arm" is a set phrase and I suppose therefore an idiom. I would say therefore that "a neck as long as an arm" might refer to an idiom but is not an idiom itself.

    Here are some examples from the BNC:

    ‘It turns out he's got a human rights record as long as your arm,’ Trish told me.
    He had a difficult time, having largely to rebuild the fleet in a period when every shipyard had an order book as long as your arm.
    I have a list of vices as long as your arm but I am not mean.
    Some anglers, of course, ridicule this goal by catching such fish like shelling peas; the name John Bailey and big roach for instance are synonymous, he has a list of two and three pounders to his credit as long as your arm.
    I'd actually go a bit further and say yes we'd like to do this, can we also look after road maintenance as well, because the road maintenance is sent out to contractors, contractors are so busy, they can't actually do half this work, they've got a list as long as your arm, so pit pitfalls in in the pavements as well as as some of the motorways aren't being done because the contract's been placed, but they've placed it with the wrong people.
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