East of the Sun, West of the Moon

2007/1/18

It does what?

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 2:23 am

In the expression the plot thickens, is there some explanation for what the plot was originally and why it got thicker? Sure, I can see how it implies that things get more difficult to sort out, the water muddier, whatever, but it seems to me like there may have been more to it, whatever it was.

Who knows?

3 Comments

  1. thick·en /ˈθɪkən/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[thik-uhn] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    –verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
    1. to make or become thick or thicker.
    2. to make or grow more intense, profound, intricate, or complex: The plot thickens.

    Number two there matches nicely. (dictionary.com’s entry for ‘thicken’) 🙂

    -Kalle.

    Comment by Kalle — 2007/1/18 @ 10:56 am

  2. Another entry goes:
    “To make or become more intense, intricate, or complex: The leader’s departure thickens the problems. Our apprehension thickened.”

    The entry for “through thick and thin”, which seems related, goes:
    “Despite all obstacles or adversities, as in ‘She promised to stand by him through thick and thin.’ This term alludes to penetrating a forest with both thick and sparse undergrowth. Today it is nearly always used with the idea of supporting something or someone in all circumstances, as in the example. [Late 1300s]”

    Comment by Kalle — 2007/1/18 @ 10:58 am

  3. The interpretation of thicken as to grow more intricate/complex is an odd one. Makes me wonder if that was retro-fitted to explain the plot thickens expression in the first place.

    I’m now imagining (also because of your other comment) a plot of land where the forest is getting thicker towards the end, as a way to visualize the expression. 🙂

    Comment by Erwin — 2007/1/18 @ 4:29 pm

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