work one's fingers to the bone(redirected from work one's tail)
work (one's) fingers to the bone
To work excessively hard. Likened to literally wearing the skin off of one's hands from too much manual labor. I have worked my fingers to the bone renovating this house, and I'm glad to say that it has all been worth it. You have everyone working their fingers to the bone. You need to give them a break or they'll burn out.
work one's fingers to the bone
Also, work one's tail or butt off . Exert oneself, labor very hard, as in She's working her fingers to the bone to support her children, or I work my tail off and then the government takes half my income in taxes. The first hyperbole, with its image of working the skin and flesh off one's fingers, dates from the mid-1800s; the less polite variants date from the first half of the 1900s.
work one's fingers to the bone, to
To work extremely hard. This hyperbole, with its image of working the skin and flesh off one’s fingers, dates from the nineteenth century. The eighteenth century had to work like a horse; Jonathan Swift used this version in his Journal to Stella (1710): “Lord Wharton . . . is working like a horse for elections.” Some nineteenth-century exaggerators stated to work like a galley-slave. In America that translated into work like a nigger, which of course is offensive in the extreme (and probably was then, too).