*What was that a nice way of saying? Beat the shit out of any kid caught so much as jay-walking? Yes, he'd been that way himself in his time, and it was a nasty little cul-de-sac, every bit as bad as being sentimental." The fact is, we may lose Tetherdowne altogether," she said, "which would be a shame. I know it doesn't look like much . . ."

"- but it's home," he laughed. The joke fell among thieves. She didn't even seem to hear it.*

I would like to ask a native speaker about the phrase "to fall a joke among the thieves". I was not able to find the meaning on the internet. I thought that it could be an idiom. From the context, I would say that it means the joke did not cause any response and that it was ignored but I am not sure.

  • No idea. It feels like the author is mixing idioms -- "the joke fell flat" and "there is (no) honor among thieves" -- but the combination makes no sense to me.
    – Andrew
    Dec 25, 2018 at 19:37
  • "fell among thieves" from Bible KJV Luke 10:30
    – James K
    Dec 25, 2018 at 20:34
  • This is from a story in Clive Barker's "Books of Blood" from the story "Pig Blood Blues". Literally read that very passage just before looking it up. Being an English author, it may be an expression used in the UK.. Certainly not on used in the U.S., that I'm aware of.
    – Doc Feral
    Nov 9, 2020 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


It is not a common idiom. It appears to mean that there was no response to the joke, as if the humour had been stolen.

The expression "fell among thieves" is from Bible. A man "fell among thieves" who robbed him an beat him, but he was rescued by the "good Samaritan". So this can be seen as a mixed expression "the joke fell flat" (nobody laughed) an "he fell among thieves" (he was robbed).

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