As Thick As Thieves – Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Have you ever heard about two people being “as thick as thieves,” but you’re not sure what that means? When two people are close or are in cahoots, we say they are as thick as thieves. Discover the full definition of thick as thieves, its etymology, and example sentences in today’s post!

Thick As Thieves Saying

Translated from an 18th-century French saying, “as thick as thieves” literally means “like thieves at a fair.” It means being close, secretive, and complicit with someone, which can have both a positive and a negative meaning. It was originally used to express the closeness of thieves as a pack or the honor among thieves. 

What Does It Mean to Say Thick As Thieves?

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When people say that two or more individuals are “thick as thieves,” they describe a strong, unbreakable bond between the individuals in question. This can refer to any number of relationships, from close friendships to familial bonds.

Regardless of the nature of the relationship, this phrase suggests that these individuals share a deep sense of trust and intimacy with each other and are willing to stick together through good and bad times.

Whether this means always having their backs in disputes or simply being there for each other during tough times, those who are thick as thieves always have one another’s best interests at heart.

And while this clearly implies that there may be some level of secrecy or deception involved in these relationships, it also highlights how close-knit these groups truly are. In short, when two or more people truly belong together, they are said to be thick as thieves.

It can even be used negatively to refer to people who exploit others for their own gain, suggesting that those individuals share something so closely that it borders on being unethical. To illustrate how this expression is typically used, let’s consider some examples below.

As for the “as thick as thieves” etymology, it has a French origin. The original saying is “s’entendre comme larron en foire.” Translated, it means “like thieves at a fair.”

How Do You Use Thick as Thieves?

One possible example is a parent and child, who may refer to each other as “thick as thieves.” This suggests an intense and unbreakable bond between the two individuals.

Another example could be someone working closely with a colleague or teammate, who they can depend on completely in all aspects of work.

A third example might be two journalists sharing information during an important investigation or even criminals working together on some shady scheme. In any case, this expression is typically used to indicate that these individuals share something very deeply rooted and important to each other.

Example sentences:

  • John and I are as thick as thieves. We go way back to kindergarten and have been inseparable for years.
  • Corrupt politicians are as thick as thieves. They’ll stick up for each other while milking government funds for their own benefit.
  • Sarah missed the times when she and her sister were as thick as thieves. These days, they barely have the time to talk to each other.

Thick As Thieves Similar Phrases

If you don’t want to use the expression “as thick as thieves,” here are some synonyms that convey the same idea:

  • Hand in hand
  • Kissing cousins
  • In tandem
  • Cozy with
  • Buddy-buddy

The Final Word

I hope my article helped you understand what thick as thieves means and how to use the phrase in your own writing. Keep in mind that thick as thieves is typically used informally, so be sure to use it sparingly in more formal contexts. Have you ever used the expression thick as thieves in your own writing?