Talk Nineteen to the Dozen

A British idiom but sometimes heard in America as well. Used since at least the mid-1800’s.

Meaning of the Idiom ‘Talk Nineteen to the Dozen’

When someone talks nineteen to the dozen they are taking very quickly and incessantly without stopping. Can refer to someone who babbles, or who simply talks a lot, whether or not they talk very quickly.

This is similar to the expression to talk a blue streak or to talk a mile a minute.

Since the word talk is used literally in this expression, some scholars consider it a semi-idiom.

Examples Of Use

“Jimmy was talking nineteen to the dozen, trying to describe the circus he saw rolling into town.”

“Used car salesmen usually talk nineteen to the dozen.”

Origin

This idiom refers to someone saying nineteen words in the time it usually takes someone to say twelve. There is also mentions of an alternative, sixteen to the dozen, in the literature, but the number nineteen seems to have won out, perhaps simply because it is easier to say, or because it is a higher number, lending emphasis. Why nineteen is used and not twenty is unknown.

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