the plot thickens

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From the satirical play The Rehearsal. First attested in 1671.[1]


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the plot thickens

  1. (idiomatic, often humorous) Used to describe an increasingly complex or mysterious situation.
    • 1672 George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, The Rehearsal, Act III Scene ii:
      BAYES. Lo' you now, there he's off again.
      JOHNS. Admirably done i'faith.
      BAYES. Ay, now the Plot thickens very much upon us.
    • 1703–4 Richard Steele The Lying Lover: Or, the Ladies Friendship Act II Scene i:
      Y. Book. Well said, Lad—and as Mr. Bays says, now the Plot thickens upon us, we'll spend our time as gaily as the best of 'em—and all of it in Love [...]
    • 1888, Frank Munsey, chapter XX, in The Boy Broker; Among the Kings of Wall Street[2], page 143:
      "His statement is wholly false," was our hero’s reply. "It was his miserable villainy that deprived me of my liberty, and kept me away from my work."
      Mr. Goldwin looked puzzled.
      "The plot thickens," said he. "Give me your story."
    • 1973 April 1, “Watergate: The Plot Thickens”, in The Sun-Herald, Sydney, Australia, page 75


See also[edit]


  1. ^ “Why Do We Say “the Plot Thickens”? Is It a Soup Metaphor?”, in Slate[1], 2014 March 12