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Thread: all thumbs

  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default all thumbs

    Does "all thumbs" fit any activity like this or is it related only to the things handled by hands?
    ex)When it comes to dancing, I'm all thumbs.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: all thumbs

    When it comes to dancing, I have two left feet.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: all thumbs

    In my experience "I'm all thumbs" usually refers to things done by hand: "Can you open this jar for me? I'm all thumbs this morning".
    But a quick check on-line finds it defined here and there as meaning clumsy or graceless in a general sense. I haven't heard it used that way.

    If you're not a good dancer you might say you have "two left feet".

    not a teacher

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: all thumbs

    It could work with your example because it sounds so odd- maybe being all thumbs at dancing is worse than having two left feet.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: all thumbs

    For info, when talking about having problems doing something by hand, I've only heard/used "I'm all fingers and thumbs".

  6. #6
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    Default Re: all thumbs

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    For info, when talking about having problems doing something by hand, I've only heard/used "I'm all fingers and thumbs".
    I've heard that too, but I've heard and used 'I'm all thumbs'.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: all thumbs

    That one confuses me. If you're doing something involving your hands, wouldn't having fingers and thumbs be useful?

    Maybe the "all thumbs" one is more American?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #8
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: all thumbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    That one confuses me. If you're doing something involving your hands, wouldn't having fingers and thumbs be useful?

    Maybe the "all thumbs" one is more American?
    Another AmE vs BrE difference may well be the case. It is indeed very helpful to have both fingers and thumbs when doing something by hand and I've always found it a rather strange phrase! I assume it suggests that your fingers and thumbs are all over the place.

    My flatmate (BrE) said he prefers "all fingers and thumbs" or the phrase "butter fingers" when the clumsiness involves dropping things.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: all thumbs

    We have "butter fingers" here too.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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