Stick to Your Ribs

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Also: Stick to the ribs

Meaning of Idiom 'Stick to Your Ribs'

To stick to your ribs, referring to food, means to be filling or substantial or that keeps you from being hungry again quickly; to be sustaining. 1,2


"You look half-starved. Have some of this stew. It'll stick to your ribs."

"I know my food isn't fancy," said the cook, "but it sticks to the ribs."

"When you're working outside in the cold all day you need a breakfast that really sticks to the ribs."

"I am as concerned with health as anyone else but sometimes I just want a meal that sticks to my ribs."


According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, this expression was first recorded in 1603. 1

A variant used in the 1800's was 'stick by the ribs.'

Any claims as to the actual figurative allusion of this idiom are only speculative, but it seems to refer to food that lingers in the stomach longer, thus delaying hunger. Whether a misunderstanding of the digestive process, or a human anatomy, was responsible, or the allusion was simply humorous, is hard to say.

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.

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