talk someone's arm off

Also, talk someone's ear or head or pants off; talk a blue streak; talk until one is blue in the face; talk the bark off a tree or the hind leg off a donkey or horse. Talk so much as to exhaust the listener, as in Whenever I run into her she talks my arm off, or Louise was so excited that she talked a blue streak, or You can talk the bark off a tree but you still won't convince me. The first four expressions imply that one is so bored by a person's loquacity that one's arm (or ear or head or pants) fall off; they date from the first half of the 1900s (also see pants off). The term like a blue streak alone simply means “very quickly,” but in this idiom, first recorded in 1914, it means “continuously.” The obvious hyperboles implying talk that takes the bark off a tree, first recorded in 1831, or the hind leg off a horse, from 1808, are heard less often today. Also see under blue in the face.


Nearby words

  1. talk radio,
  2. talk round,
  3. talk sense,
  4. talk shop,
  5. talk show,
  6. talk through,
  7. talk through one's hat,
  8. talk to,
  9. talk turkey,
  10. talk up

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