Wednesday, March 13, 2013

cliché: bad to the bone

Meaning: thoroughly bad (definition).

Example: The thief stole even their last roll of toilet paper; he was bad to the bone.

Origins: “to the bone” = as completely as possible, based on trimming all the meat from a bone, leaving no waste. (Source: Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms, page 38.)


  • crummy to the core
  • bastard to the bone
  • mean to the marrow
  • rotten to the root
  • bad to the board foot

Discussion: The meaningful root to explore turned out to be “to the bone.” When I researched the full idiom, I kept getting pushed to the 1980’s song by Thoroughgood, yet found nothing of value on the idiom’s origins. When I researched the root, an idiom in its own right, that’s when I found this source. 

I tried to retain the minor alliterative nature of the idiom. There are surely many other ways to rewrite this cliché without that stricture.

No comments: