This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. See our privacy statement
World Wide Words logo

Tub thumping

Q From Donna Marie Watson, New Jersey: In a magazine article about Australia, the term tub thumping was used. My students asked me what it meant, and I couldn’t figure it out. Any idea?

A Many americans are more familiar with Bible-thumping, which has much the same sense. The phrase originally referred to a preacher of a type still familiar: one who does so in an aggressive way and who bangs on the pulpit to give emphasis. At the time the expression was first recorded — in the Cromwellian period of English history, roughly the 1650s — the allusion was to nonconformist preachers. There may be a connection here with the literal tub-thumping of an outdoor orator using an inverted tub as an informal lectern, or perhaps the practice of converting wash-tubs into improvised drums during processions or demonstrations.

Page created 4 Nov. 2000

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-tub1.htm
Last modified: 4 November 2000.