'This Wenche Thikke'

4 min read
fairly easy
A number of social media posts referenced a "thikke" quote from the historic Canterbury Tales.
Claim A Tumblr post includes an accurate excerpt from Canterbury Tales, including "this wenche thikke" and "[I will not lie.]"

Rating True


AdvertisementsOn July 11 2021, a Facebook account shared Tumblr screenshots to a public group which purportedly excerpted a ribald verse that included phrases familiar to the modern ear, including "this wenche thikke" and "I wol nat lye" from one of the 14th-century Canterbury Tales stories:

Screenshots were equally popular on Twitter:

The Tumblr thread apparently began on June 8 2021, when u/bimbogollum shared an image of text reading "This wenche thikke":

After that, u/f-identity provided an image description for low-vision users, indicating the text was a "cropped image of medieval-stylized printed text," implying that the earlier post was likely a meme placing modern language in an anachronistic format:

Then u/bimbogollum thanked u/f-identity for appending a description, interjecting that the image was "not stylised, but actual Middle English," "from The Canterbury Tales":

Thank you for adding this image description! Just wanted to clarify that it's not stylised, but actual Middle English. The text is from The Canterbury Tales.

Finally, on July 9 2021, u/kiralamouse added:

Okay, had to track it down. It's from the Reeve's Tale, and it's a description of a 20yo young woman: This wenche thikke and wel y-growen was,

With camuse nose and yën greye as glas;

With buttokes brode and brestes rounde and hye,

But right fair was hir heer, I wol nat lye. In modern English (had to look up "camuse", so that's as good as my source, but I know the rest) This wench was thick and well-grown

With a pug nose and eyes grey as glass;

With buttocks broad and breasts round and high,

But right fair was her hair, I will not lie. The fact that Chaucer had "big butt" and "I will not lie" within two lines of each other is…
Kim LaCapria
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