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Folded like a cheap xxxx

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:46 pm
by trolley
Today, I heard someone remark "He folded like a cheap suit" (meaning he gave up easily...without a struggle). It's actually fairly common and I've heard it many times but it doesn't really seem to make a lot of sense. I always understood the expression to be "folded like a cheap suitcase". That one seems pretty straight forward. A cheap piece of luggage would be more likely to fold or not hold up as well as a more expensive one would. There is an expression ("like a cheap suit") that describes someone or something unwelcome, hanging on you (literally or figuratively). A clinging girl friend or an opposing football player could hang on you "like a cheap suit". That one makes sense to me. I suspect these two sayings have become mixed up. Who folds a suit and why would a cheap one fold any easier than and expensive one would? I've also heard the "cheap suit" expression used to describe being "all in" or in complete agreement.
"Let's go for Chinese food"
"I'm all over that like a cheap suit"
I'm not really sure if that one works or not but it's not as confusing as the similar:
"Let's go for Chinese food"
"I'm in like a dirty shirt"
I spent a bit of time Googling other people's take on these expressions but then I just folded like a potato.

Re: Folded like a cheap xxxx

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:33 pm
by Phil White
I reckon I live on the wrong side of the pond for all of those. "Cheap suit" and "cheap suitcase" are foreign to me. So is "dirty shirt", although I have heard "dirty shit" plenty of times...

Re: Folded like a cheap xxxx

Posted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:07 am
by Bobinwales
I m with Phil. I have never heard anything to do with cheap suits.
Something can be all over you like a rash I grant you, but never a suit.

Re: Folded like a cheap xxxx

Posted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:54 am
by Erik_Kowal
When I lived in North America (as Trolley does now), I too came across this expression from time to time.

A cheap suit is likely to be made of cheap fabric, which in turn is likely to be rather thin and flimsy.

By contrast, an expensive suit is usually made of sturdier fabric, such as wool. A suit made of better material somewhat resists being folded (which one might do to pack it into a suitcase), whereas a cheap one does so only minimally. Being flimsier, it also holds its shape less well when being worn. So my guess is that the expression arose from these obvious differences in characteristics between a cheap suit and an expensive one.

Cheap suits tend to be worn by people who can't afford expensive ones. So a cheap suit is also associated with poverty and struggle, which in our highly status-conscious societies automatically demotes the standing of people in that situation. The attachment of moralistic disdain to the associations evoked by a cheap suit makes the comparison all the more potent and attractive to some people.