tarred with the same brush, to be

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tarred with the same brush, to be

Characterized by the same faults or bad qualities. This expression probably comes from sheepherding, where it was long the practice to treat a sheep’s sores by applying a brush dipped in tar. Since presumably all the sheep in one flock would be treated in this way, the term was transferred to humans sharing the same qualities. The figurative use dates from the early nineteenth century. In print Sir Walter Scott used it in several novels. John Ciardi, however, believed it came from the practice of sailors working with tar brushes (for caulking), and, being in cramped quarters, often tarring one another. This origin seems less likely.
See also: same, tar
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Now the good carers are going to be tarred with the same brush, which I for one think is awful.
I find it most objectionable to be tarred with the same brush as greedy, deceitful, scroungers whether they are in Parliament or not.
No surprise her prettier sister, Pixie, 16, doesn't want to be tarred with the same brush. She said at the bash: "Peaches is into fashion.
As a result of this, the resident now finds it hard to trust our staff, as we appear to be tarred with the same brush. Our staff promote the individuals' rights, independence and dignity.
A spokeman for the Scottish National Farmers Union said: "We do not want to be tarred with the same brush."