lay it on with a trowel

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lay it on thick

To exaggerate, overembellish, or overstate some emotional experience, response, or appeal, such as blame, praise, flattery, excuses, etc. Jim carries on as though flattering the boss will get him a promotion, so he's always laying it on thick for her. Bob, I think Mary understands the trouble she's in, no need to lay it on so thick. News of the bailout has laid the turbulent markets at rest, at least for the time being.
See also: lay, on, thick

lay it on with a trowel

To exaggerate, aggrandize, or overstate some emotional experience, response, or appeal, such as blame, praise, flattery, excuses, etc. Jim carries on as though flattering the boss will get him a promotion, so he's always laying it on with a trowel for her. OK, Bob, I think Mary understands the trouble she's in, no need to lay it on with a trowel.
See also: lay, on, trowel

lay it on with a trowel

BRITISH
If you lay it on with a trowel, you try to make something seem more important than it really is, especially in order to get the reaction you want. You have to make up your mind about whether Carmen's telling the truth or laying it on with a trowel. Note: You can also say that someone lays on a particular thing with a trowel if they emphasize it. He followed my advice and laid on the flattery with a trowel. Compare with lay it on thick.
See also: lay, on, trowel
References in periodicals archive ?
Brenda Blethyn lays it on with a trowel - no, make that two trowels - as her mouthy mother while Michael Caine as a sleazy agent merits only a couple of laughs - one for a floral dressing gown and one just for being Michael Caine.
To make it seem that Air Force One--an airplane, remember, a flying bus--has enough conceptual integrity and heft to earn itself a book (instead of, say, a longish article in American Heritage), Walsh lays it on with a trowel.