One of the expressions we discussed this week at the French conversation group was out in the sticks, which is en pleine cambrousse (‘in full countryside’) or au milieu de la cambrousse (‘in the middle of the countryside’).
La cambrousse comes from the Provençal cambrousso (hovel, storeroom), from cambra (bedroom). The sense of ‘province / countryside’ perhaps comes from the slang of travelling entertainers (saltimbanques) [source].
The expression ‘in the sticks’ was apparently coined in the USA and was first used in the Florence Times Daily in November 1897
… he gathered from 1 1/2 acres this year 21 barrels of corn. If any man “away in the sticks” can beat this, in the language of “Philander Doesticks,” we exclaim, “let him stand forward to de rear.”
At first it was associated mainly with baseball and ‘the sticks’ referred to exhibition games played in county locations. Later it came to refer to any out-of-the-way location.
Other ways to express this in English include ‘in the middle of nowhere’, ‘the back of beyond’ – are there others you know in English or other languages?