like greased lightning


Also, like a blue streak; like the wind; like blazes. Very fast indeed, as in He climbed that ladder like greased lightning, or She kept on talking like a blue streak, or The children ran like the wind when they heard there'd be free ice cream. The likening of speed to lightning dates from the 1500s, and grease was added in the early 1800s to further accentuate the idea of haste. The first variant, blue streak, also dates from the early 1800s and alludes to something resembling lightning. The wind in the second variant has been a metaphor for swiftness since ancient Roman times. The blazes in the last variant, first recorded in 1925, alludes to fire or lightning.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.