Lay it on thick - to exaggerate

MateuszMoś

Senior Member
Hello,


If I decide to use this idiom, meaning to exaggerate, what preposition I should use?

My dad laid it on thick about /with his accident at work.

I would rather use "about" than "with", nonetheless, I would not say that "with" is incorrect.
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Could you please explain what exactly you mean? How did he "lay it on thick"? I doubt either preposition is correct. It would probably be better to start with a 'when' clause.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I always saw "to lay on thick" as meaning "to do something to excess" rather than to exaggerate, nevertheless...

    I see "My dad laid it on thick about /with his accident at work" as not being idiomatic: The meaning would be idiomatically
    "My dad kept going on about his accident at work - he really laid it on thick.".
    "To lay it on thick" does not take an object, complement, or modifying adjunct (as such) because (a) it already has an object (it = the length of and drama in something) and (ii) it is a set phrase.
     
    Last edited:

    MateuszMoś

    Senior Member
    I see. It works more like a summary or a comment. Once it is a fixed expression, I see now why it shouldn't be tampered with.

    My father really laid it on thick when he kept going on about his accident at work. - Do you accept it as idiomatic now?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Where I live, "laid it on thick", in actual use, has the specific meaning of either lying or exaggerating for the purpose of gaining sympathy or to ingratiate yourself with someone.

    I can't tell from the comments above if it's different where you all live.

    I always saw "to lay on thick" as meaning "to do something to excess" rather than to exaggerate, nevertheless...

    I see "My dad laid it on thick about /with his accident at work" as not being idiomatic: The meaning would be idiomatically
    "My dad kept going on about his accident at work - he really laid it on thick.".
    Depending on the meaning of "kept going on" it might be the same or might not.

    If it just means he kept talking about it until everyone around him was tired of hearing it, that, in the US, is not laying it on thick.

    If he simply tripped and fell and hurt his knee but told everyone an elaborate story of how he hurt it saving a fellow worker from falling into a pumping machine that would be laying it on thick.

    Or if he was complimenting a wrinkled old lady about how youthful she looked, especially if he needed something from her, that would be laying it on thick.

    It is a form of excess, but a specific form.
     
    Last edited:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In AE we don't use "a bit" -- that's BE.

    We do say "lay it on thick". The emphasis here is "thick". You are saying the opposite of "lay it on thin" or "lay it on the normal thickness".

    The meaning can be literal:
    - When she makes a sandwich, she really lays the mayonaisse on thick.
    - The bricklayer uses too much cement between bricks. He lays it on thick, and that means it takes longer to dry.


    Or it can be metaphorical:
    - When negotiating, he talks about his starving children. He really lays it on thick.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top