Through Thick and Thin

I what it means: continuing on regardless of difficulty or condition. But I didn’t know where the phrase came from until I looked it up on The Phrase Finder ( Originally, the saying was through thicket and thin wood – a description of the English countryside and a reference to the difficulties of traversing it. It shows up in the 1600’s and got shortened sometime between then and now, obscuring its literal meaning.

For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer – things I promised to weather with my husband over twenty-four years ago. If we decide to renew our vows (as we did on our 10th anniversary), I think I’ll swap these words for through thicket and thin wood. Perhaps because they aren’t so familiar as the words in the wedding ceremony, they offer something new and precious. Walking through thicket and thin wood together may bring with it unexpected difficulties and arguments, but it brings with it an appreciation of the beauty that surrounds us every step of the way. Perhaps I’ll face the obstacles gladly for the glimpse of the living world that surrounds us and the deepening of the love that binds us together that only comes from the walk.

[The Phrase Finder was founded by Gary Martin in 1997, an outcome of post-graduate studies at Sheffield Hallam University. It’s a marvelous site, including original sources and helpful references for further study.]


2 thoughts on “Through Thick and Thin

  1. bill Albritton

    Interesting, Johnna. I always thought it meant “when we have a lot (thick) and when we little (thin)” but it’s good to know the original phrase. I think I’ll bookmark that site.

    1. Johnna Post author

      Hi Bill,

      I thought that as well. Of course, it could be that the phrase traces back to more than one saying…peace, Johnna


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