AE 345 – Expression: To Stick/Stand Out Like A Sore Thumb

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of Aussie English where I teach you to use TO STICK/STAND OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB.

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AE 345 – Expression:
To Stick/Stand Out Like A Sore Thumb

Today’s expression episode is “to stand out like a sore thumb” or “to stick out like a sore thumb”.

This one was suggested by Chris in the Aussie English Virtual Classroom, the Facebook group, that you guys can join in order to practice your English.

So, I really recommend, do a search for Aussie English Virtual Classroom and give it a join. Click join.

Today’s expression to stick out like a sore thumb, to stand out like a sore thumb.

Thank you for suggesting that Chris. And thank you for everyone who voted for this expression.

So, every week I send out a post in the group and I say what expression do you guys want to do this week.

Give me some suggestions and then with all the suggestions I put them into a poll and let you guys vote on which expression you guys would like to learn.

And so, today’s is “to stick out like a sore thumb”.

As usual, let’s go through the different words in this expression, guys.

So, “to stand out” or “to stick out”, this means to project from a surface, to be obvious, to be evident, to be extremely noticeable. Right?

So, you can imagine that if you have a surface like this and something is sticking out, something is standing out, that it’s incredibly obvious.

You can see this thing standing out or sticking out.

So, that’s a good phrasal verb to use. The nail was sticking out of a piece of wood.

The nail was standing out of a piece of wood.

He was standing out of the crowd because he was wearing a red t-shirt.

Everyone else was wearing a blue t-shirt. So, he stood out, he stuck out.

“Like”. The word “like”, this is having the same characteristic or quality as something.

It’s “similar to”. You guys will know what the word “like” is.

My head is the shape or the same shape like an egg.

My eyes are the colour… the same colour as the sky.

So, my eyes are like the sky. My beard is like the fur of a kangaroo. You know what “like” means.

“A thumb”. I think “a thumb” is pretty obvious, guys. You guys all know what “a thumb” is.

“A thumb” is the short thick first digit or first finger on your hand. This is “a thumb.

So, “to stick out like a sore thumb” or “to stand out like a sore thumb”, it means to be incredibly conspicuous, incredibly obvious, very obvious, very easily noticed as different, right?

So, if you stick out like a sore thumb you’re incredibly noticeable, you’re incredibly obvious.

If you stand out like a sore thumb, you’re incredibly conspicuous, you’re very easily noticed as different.

So, I was looking into the origin of this phrase, “to stick out like a sore thumb”, “to stand out like a sore thumb”, and apparently it originates from the 16th century, so about the 1500s.

So, a good 500 years ago. And, the idiom is probably much older than that.

It wasn’t really used for a long time, and then it came back in the 1940s.

So, in 1940 to 1950, it came back thanks to a book by an author called Perry Mason.

So, he used this phrase, and then it came back into popular culture, popular language.

So, I guess the idea here is pretty obvious, it’s pretty self-evident, that if you have a sore thumb…

So, you’ve injured your thumb, you’ve whacked your thumb on something, you’ve hit it, maybe you dislocated it and then put it back in.

If it’s sore, your thumb is going to stick out as it heals. Right?

It’s not going to… it’s not going to be in your hand. It’s not going to be down like this.

It’s going to tend to be sticking outwards like that, standing outwards like that.

And so, if you’ve got a sore thumb and you’re holding it out, especially if it’s bandaged.

So, if you’ve put a bandage around your sore thumb and you’re protecting it, you’re caring for it, you’re making sure that no one hits it, that no one hurts your thumb, then that’s incredibly obvious.

So, it’s going to be a lot more obvious to see people holding their thumb like this, where it stands out, sticks out, than just holding a fist or holding their hand in a normal position, right?

So, that’s where this sort of idea would be… would have come from.

So, as usual, let’s go through some examples of how I would use this expression guys, “to stick out like a sore thumb”, “to stand out like a sore thumb”.

This is very much used in a figurative sense.



So, for example, example number one, imagine that I had a really big pimple on the centre of my forehead.

So, I had a really big pimple that was red and it was growing really big on my head.

If it was really obvious, anywhere I go outside people are going to notice the pimple on my face straight away.

I could say that the pimple is standing out like a sore thumb.

It’s sticking out like a sore thumb. The pimple’s incredibly obvious.

It’s incredibly easily noticed. It is conspicuous.

And then, I could say as a result of a pimple I stick out like a sore thumb.

I stand out like a sore thumb because of the pimple on my head.

So, that’s example number one.


Example number two. Imagine that you are going to a toga party, right?

So, you go to a toga party. And a toga party is a party where you dress up like Ancient Greeks.

So, you tend to wear a sheet across your body, and you might have, you know, some of the olive branch around your head or something, but they’re pretty famous in, like, America.

But, just imagine you go to a toga party.

Everyone’s dressed up in a sheet, everyone’s wearing the same clothing, except you go in a tiger costume or a Superman costume or maybe you go in… dressed up as the Hulk or as Batman.

If you go dressed up as the Hulk or as Batman to a toga party, you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb.

You’re going to stand out like a sore thumb.

You’re going to be incredibly obvious, incredibly conspicuous, easily noticed, because you’re not dressed the same as everyone else at the toga party.

You’re incredibly, you’re obviously different, so you’re going to stand out, you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb.

So, that’s example number two.


Example number three. This was a really good example that I thought of.

I was sitting here writing these examples out and I remember thinking after I got past one and two I was like, “I can’t think of any good examples!”.

My friend Emily is this beautiful six-foot-tall blue-eyed blonde girl Emily.

And if you’re watching this Emily, you’re awesome.

But, she was in China doing her Master’s degree a long time ago.

And, I remember her telling me a story about where when she was in China she felt like she stood out. She felt like she stuck out.

She felt like a viking, you know, being this incredibly tall beautiful woman with blond hair that everyone else had dark hair.

She had bright blue eyes. Probably brighter than my eyes.

And so, everywhere she went people wanted photos, they noticed her, they wanted to touch her hair, they wanted to talk to her.

And so, she felt like she stuck out like a sore thumb. She felt like she stood out like a sore thumb.

So, because Emily was so different from everyone else, she was incredibly conspicuous, she was seen by everyone, always noticed, she felt like she stood out, she felt like she stuck out like a sore thumb.

So, those are the three examples, guys.

Now, hopefully the meaning of the phrase to stick out or to stand out like a sore thumb now sticks out or stands out like a sore thumb for you, that it’s incredibly obvious.

As usual, let’s go through a listen and repeat exercise here guys where we will practice our pronunciation and usage, our use, of this expression.

I’m going to use to stick out in this one. I won’t change between the two different phrase verbs “to stick out” and “to stand out”.

So, I’ll use “to stick out”, and I’m going to say it in the future tense. I will, you will, he will.

One more thing I want to say here is that if you’re watching last week or you listen to last week’s episode you’ll remember that I used that Dark L.

So, instead of saying “you’ll”, “you’ll”, I say, “you’ll”, “you’ll”.

So, pay attention to that, ’cause that’s why I’m using the Future Tense again.

All right? Listen repeat after me, guys.

Find somewhere that you’re alone, that you can speak out loud and practice your pronunciation, and say things exactly as I do to practice your English pronunciation.

Listen & Repeat:

I’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
You stick out like a sore thumb.
He’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
She’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
We’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
They’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
It’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

Good job guys. Good job.

So, I guess basically the pronunciation and connected speech side of those phrases that I want to cover for you guys, pay attention to the Dark L, “you’ll”, “he’ll”, “she’ll”, instead of “you’ll”, “he’ll”, “she’ll”.

So, we drop that when we’re speaking really quickly.

It’s a lot more easy, well, “a lot more easy”, it’s a lot easier*.

Also pay attention to the rhythm.

So, notice there how I’m saying, “I’ll stick out like a sore thumb”, “he’ll stick out like a sore thumb”.

So, you’ll notice there that I push all the verb and the pronoun together.

“He’ll stick out like a sore thumb”, “she’ll stick out like a sore thumb”, you’ll see how that’s linked together.

So, notice… pay attention to my rhythm and really try and copy that when you listen and repeat these phrases.

So, pay attention to the rhythm. Pay attention to the Dark L. “He’ll”, “she’ll”, “I’ll”, “they’ll”.

Notice that. And then also, I want you to pay attention to linking the K’s on to the next word.

So, you’ll notice in this sentence “stick” ends with a K(-sound) and “like” ends with a K(-sound).

And you’ll notice that when I say these sentences, I almost move that K at the ends of those words onto the start of the next words.

So, I’ll say “it’ll stick_out like_a sore thumb”.

So, you see that? “It’ll stick_out like_a sore thumb”. It links really well.

So, that’s the one thing I wanted you to take away from this lesson.

Pay attention to how we link the consonants at the ends of the words there, “stick” and “like”, the K, how we link it onto the next word that starts with a vowel.

And so, some other examples were: wake_up way_up, as in “I wake_up in the morning”. Wake_up.

Make_out. Make_out. If you make out with someone you’re kissing them. Make_out, make_out.

Rake_it, rake_it. If you’re raking, it means you are using a rake to, say, collect leaves in your yard.

You’re raking up the leaves. Rake_it, rape_it up, rake_up.

So, notice the K there linking.

And then, I guess, the last one I have a sentence here for you to practice this, guys.

So, listen repeat after me. Listen and repeat after me.

I cook and make a cake after I wake up.

Alright, I’m going to try and say that more linked together.

I cook_and make_a cake_after I wake_up.
I cook_and make_a cake_after I wake_up.
I cook_and make_a cake_after I wake_up.
I cook_and make_a cake_after I wake_up.

So, you’ll notice that the K links to the next word that starts with a vowel.

I cook and make up… I cook and make a cake like… anyway.

It’s a tongue twister. I cook and make a cake after I wake up. All right.

Good job, guys. I hope you enjoy this episode.

Before we finish up, I want to mention that, obviously, there is bonus content for this episode where I will give you a full transcript as well as an MP3 for the episode to download when you sign up to the Aussie English Classroom on the website.

It’s one dollar to try for a month. That’s four lessons.

You’ll get one a week for a month for one dollar.

You’ll get a massive vocab list of all the difficult words like phrasal verbs and other words that I’ve used in this lesson.

That’ll come after the main transcript. You’ll then get slang exercises.

You’ll get a listening comprehension exercise with questions for you to answer while you listen to the episode.

So, asking about different things, different things I say.

So, to practice your listening comprehension.

You’ll also have a phrasal verb exercise, which I have a feeling is going to focus on “to stick out” or “to stand out” in this episode.

So, we’re going to practice with substituting in phrasal verbs, because I love trying to teach you guys phrasal verbs.

That also comes with an MP3 for you to listen to and do as a listen and repeat exercise.

So, you can do that or you can do it as a written exercise.

There’ll be a slang exercise at the end guys for Aussie slang.

You’ll get a pronunciation and connected speech exercise focusing more on those consonants linking to words starting with the vowels this week and then you’ll have a grammar exercise and we might fiddle with the Future Tense again.

So, remember, sign up to the Aussie English Classroom.

Give it a go. One dollar for the first month. You get four lessons.

They get emailed to you, and you can work through one lesson per week, and you’re going to notice your English really shoots up if you carry out each one of these lessons once a week and complete all of the exercises.

Aside from that, I have one more announcement for you guys, and that is that as of next Thursday I am going to be starting a phrasal verb course on Facebook.

The phrasal verb course is going to start.

So, this is going to take the place of the 7 p.m. Thursday lessons, the live lessons.

They’re going to be streamed live each week.

I’m probably going to end up doing two lessons a week. So, I probably won’t just do one.

I think I’m going to have to do two, because the basic idea for me is that I want to create a course that is streamed live on Facebook and stream video is free for you guys.

You don’t have to pay for it of course. It’s free. You can just tune in and watch it at any time.

It’ll also be uploaded to YouTube.

But that by creating this content I’m then going to take the audio and take the video from each lesson, and I’m going to overlay it on the slideshow of all the phrasal verbs that I’m talking about in each lesson so that you can learn a lot more deeply.

You can follow it. You’ll have all the words all the phrases verbs written in front of you.

You can see pictures showing you how these phrasal verbs are acting, and you’ll also get a transcript, a word for word transcript of each episode.

But that is going to be paid material.

That is going to be for people who sign up and want the extra material to really take their understanding and comprehension of phrasal verbs to the next level.

So, that’s going to start on Thursday next week at 7 pm.

Hopefully, that’s enough time for me to get organised.

There’s also going to be a Facebook group for people who sign up with daily activities.

There’re going to be videos that I put on there for you guys to do exercises to practice these phrases verbs from each lesson from each week, for you to practice every single day.

And then, you’re going to get all the downloads, the videos, the MP3s, and the transcripts, as well as all the other extra content.

You’re going to have access to that to download and use anywhere, anytime if you sign up to be a member.

So, anyway that was the announcement for today guys.

Obviously, you can come and check it out on Thursday. See what you think.

I’m going to want to keep this well under 100 dollars price range wise, well, under 100 dollars.

I don’t know… I haven’t worked out how much work it’s going to be yet.

I want it to be probably about two to three months to finish.

So, it’d be two lessons a week, and we’ll see what we can do.

But, that’s it for today guys. Peace out.

Have an amazing weekend. Go and have some brunch.

Go have some coffee and I’ll see you next week.

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