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English Idioms

“Not the sharpest tool in the shed”

Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed


  • Not very intelligent or clever

Frequency of Use: Low (but loaded with  meaning)

Caution: This expression can have a negative meaning and could be offensive to some people.

Sample Sentences

  1. My brother is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He always washes his white shirts with the pink towels.
  2. I know that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I didn’t think I would make THAT mistake again.
  3. The server doesn’t appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed. She’s made several mistakes on your bill.

Conversation Questions

  1. It is easy to criticize people for being slow or not gifted at doing things quickly. Sometimes, we might even say to them directly, or imply indirectly, that they aren’t the sharpest tool in the shed. How can words harm others, and in what ways can we support other people who are struggling to learn things?

Speaking Situation

You are taking an English class with a group of international students, and you notice that one of the students is somewhat out of place in the class. The boy isn’t catching on very quickly, and he appears awkward in social situations outside of class. One of your classmates comments that the boy isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and doesn’t want you to invite him to the pizza party on Friday night. You’re not sure what to do because you want to be one of the popular kids in the class. In this situation, what would you do? What are some possible ways to include people,so they don’t alone? What you ever experienced such a situation? If so, how did you feel, and what did you do?

Language Activity

Sometimes, learners know the meaning of an idiom, but they don’t know how to use it correctly in conversation or writing. Thus, this activity checks your grammatical accuracy with the idiom so you become more confident in using it. 

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