Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
(go) tell it/that to the marines
A scornful or incredulous response to a story or statement that one does not believe or finds ridiculous. A: "You know, my dad used to play basketball with the president when they were both kids." B: "Ah, go tell it to the marines! Why do you tell such fibs?" A: "I bet you I could eat 20 hot dogs in less than half an hour!" B: "Tell that to the marines, pal!"
slang An empty bottle from an alcoholic beverage. (Potentially considered objectionable.) The yard was littered with dead marines the morning after the wild party. He looked up just in time to see a dead marine being swung at his face.
1. An empty bottle from an alcoholic beverage. The yard was littered with dead soldiers the morning after that wild party.
2. A cigarette butt. I was annoyed to find some dead soldiers on the ground, even though there was an ashtray nearby.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Tell it to the marines!
Inf. I do not believe you (maybe the marines will)! Your excuse is preposterous. Tell it to the marines. I don't care how good you think your reason is. Tell it to the marines!
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Also, dead man. An empty liquor, wine, or beer bottle, as in Their trash barrel's full of dead soldiers; they must drink a lot, or That dead man sticking out of your pocket alerted the officer to the fact that you'd been drinking. Dead man has been slang for "empty bottle" since the late 1600s but has been largely replaced by dead soldier, dating from the late 1800s.
tell it to the Marines
Go fool someone else because I won't believe that. For example, He's a millionaire? Tell it to the Marines! This term originated among British sailors, who regarded marines as naive and gullible. [c. 1800]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
tell that to the marines (or the horse marines)a scornful expression of incredulity.
This saying may have originated in a remark made by Charles II , recommending that unlikely tales should be referred to sailors who, from their knowledge of distant places, might be the people best qualified to judge their truthfulness. Horse marines, dating from the early 19th century, were an imaginary cavalry corps, soldiers mounted on horseback on board ship being a humorous image of ineptitude or of people out of their natural element. In 1823 Byron noted that That will do for the marines, but the sailors won't believe it was an ‘old saying’, and the following year Walter Scott used Tell that to the marines—the sailors won't believe it! in his novel Redgauntlet.
1998 Times Truth is the issue, say the apologists, not the grope. You can tell that to the marines. The issue is the grope.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
(go) tell it/that to the maˈrines(saying, informal) used to say that you do not believe what somebody is saying, promising, etc: ‘I’ll never smoke again!’ ‘Yeah? Go tell that to the marines.’This comes from the saying ‘that will do for the marines but the sailors won’t believe it’.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
dead soldierand dead man and dead marine and dead one
1. n. an empty liquor or beer bottle. Toss your dead soldiers in the garbage, please. There’s a dead one under the bed and another in the fireplace!
2. n. a cigarette butt. (Less common than sense 1) The bum found a dead soldier on the ground and picked it up.
See dead soldier
marine (recruit)and marine officer
n. an empty beer or liquor bottle. (see also dead soldier, dead marine. These expressions are probably meant as derogatory to either marines or officer.) Every now and then the gentle muttering of the customers was accented by the breaking of a marine as it hit the floor. There’s a marine officer laying in the fireplace.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
tell that/it to the Marines
Try fooling some more gullible person, because I won’t fall for that story. This term originated about 1800 in Britain, when sailors had nothing but contempt for marines, whom they regarded as gullible greenhorns. Byron used the expression in The Island (1823): “That will do for the Marines but sailors won’t believe it,” remarking that this was already an old saying.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
Tell it to the marines
A scornful response to an unbelievable story. Beginning in the 17th century, marines were land forces who were stationed on ships of the Royal Navy. As landlubbers, they were understandably naive if not ignorant about life aboard a vessel and on the waves. Sailors took advantage and concocted outlandish stories that the marines swallowed hook, line, and sinker. Accordingly, any outlandish story heard on land or sea and recognized as bilge was greeted with the full rejoinder, “You may tell that to the marines, but the sailors will not believe it,” subsequently shortened over generations to “Aw, tell it to the marines!”
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price