tight as a drum
(as) tight as a drum
1. Exceptionally taut; stretched very tight, as the skin of a drumhead. The muscles in his arms and back bulged as he lifted the crate, his skin as tight as a drum. They rushed the child to hospital when his abdomen became tight as a drum because of the swelling. OK, there's no need to pull your eyelid tight as a drum just to put on eyeliner.
2. Sealed so tightly or securely that water or air is unable to escape or enter. It's a lost art, being able to caulk a boat until it's as tight as a drum. The suit is tight as a drum to keep inclement weather conditions out, but the lack of ventilation turns it into something of a sauna while you wear it. "Well, these boots aren't tight as a drum," I said as I turned one boot upside down and dumped the rainwater out of it.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
*tight as a drum
1. stretched tight. (*Also: as ~.) Julia stretched the upholstery fabric over the seat of the chair until it was as tight as a drum. The skin on his scalp is tight as a drum.
2. sealed tight. (*Also: as ~.) Now that I've caulked all the windows, the house should be tight as a drum. Your butterfly died because the jar is as tight as a drum.
3. and *tight as Midas's fist very stingy. (*Also: as ~.) He won't contribute a cent. He's as tight as a drum. Old Mr. Robinson is tight as Midas's fist. Won't spend money on anything.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
tight as a drum
Taut or close-fitting; also, watertight. For example, That baby's eaten so much that the skin on his belly is tight as a drum, or You needn't worry about leaks; this tent is tight as a drum. Originally this expression alluded to the skin of a drumhead, which is tightly stretched, and in the mid-1800s was transferred to other kinds of tautness. Later, however, it sometimes referred to a drum-shaped container, such as an oil drum, which had to be well sealed to prevent leaks, and the expression then signified "watertight."
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.
tight as a drum
Close-fitting and taut. The analogy is to the skin of the drumhead, which is tightly stretched so that when it is struck the drum sounds as it should. This term was transferred in the nineteenth century to anything stretched taut; Thomas Hughes (Tom Brown’s School Days, 1857) described his hero as having eaten so much that “his little skin is as tight as a drum.” In succeeding years, however, the analogy itself was sometimes to a drum-shaped container for liquids, such as an oil drum, which of course must be well sealed to prevent leakage. Hence the expression “tight as a drum” also became synonymous with “watertight,” as in “The shelter they rigged up was as tight as a drum.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer