Lay it on thick

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The idiom lay it on thick may also be expressed as pour it on thick, spread it on thick, or lay it on with a trowel. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase lay it on thick, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To lay it on thick means to exaggerate how one feels, to compliment someone in an overstated manner, or to elaborate upon a story in a ridiculous way. Lay it on thick may also mean to work hard to try to make someone feel guilty. The exact origin of the phrase lay it on thick is unknown, but it is assumed to allude to the practice of laying on paint or plaster. The phrase came into popularity in the 1800s. Related phrases are lays it on thick, laid it on thick, laying it on thick.


The scammer (caller) will lay it on thick, telling you that the court, the Sheriff, IRS, or Social Security Office has issued a warrant for your arrest and unless you pay the fine a deputy will be coming to your door and arresting you. (The Ely Times)

These days I need my news spoon-fed to me with a little sugar; Trevor Noah (and his dimples) knows how to lay it on thick. (The Portland Mercury)

If that wasn’t enough, costume designers really laid it on thick by adding a leather harness and knee-high boots. (The Daily Express)

The President laid it on with a trowel with warm words, pomp and ceremony and less-than-subtle hugs for our leader. (The Australian)