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  1. #1
    Cougar76 is offline Newbie
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    Default Picking the right word

    Hello,


    I'm looking for a right word to use in a sentence, a word describing an incompetent person who messes up everything they touch. The sentence is:


    "Hopefully even a XXX such as yourself can do that!"


    What would be the best (non-vulgar) word to use in this context, to sound natural to a native speaker? Gawk, muff, oaf...? Being a non-native speaker I'm not sure which one to pick :) Thanks!

  2. #2
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    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Picking the right word

    "Klutz" is a fairly commonly-used word. It comes from Yiddish and means "a clumsy person". Of course, in this day and age of political correctness, you might want to avoid a word which comes from a culture not your own in case someone thinks you are making fun of it.

    I can't think of a standard BrE word which suggests a clumsy or incompetent person. I certainly wouldn't use gawk or muff. "Oaf" is close.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  3. #3
    TomUK is offline Member
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    Default Re: Picking the right word

    I looked up 'clumsy' in the online OALD and found 'clodhopper' as a word to describe an awkward or clumsy person, but I have to say that in nearly 17 years in the UK I have never heard anybody using this word.

    If I were to address a British person I might say: "Hopefully even a Frank Spencer such as yourself can do that!" (Google "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em" for an explanation.)

    TomUK

  4. #4
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    SlickVic9000 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Picking the right word

    (Not a Teacher)

    Moron, doofus, butterfingers, klutz, lug, and oaf are all fine. I'm a little partial to "clumsy oaf" myself.

  5. #5
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    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Picking the right word

    Most people of a certain age in the UK would understand "plonker" in this context - as in "You plonker, Rodney", from the TV comedy "Only Fools and Horses".
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Picking the right word

    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy View Post
    Most people of a certain age in the UK would understand "plonker" in this context - as in "You plonker, Rodney", from the TV comedy "Only Fools and Horses".
    It's a great word but it doesn't suggest clumsiness, in my opinion.

    Clodhopper is a fantastic word but it isn't seen frequently. It's the name of a children's shoe shop where I ilve!

    Butterfingers is perfect as an exclamation but I'm not sure I would describe someone as "a butterfingers". It's normally something you say after someone drops something and damages/breaks it. We would just say "Butterfingers!" after witnessing such an accident.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  7. #7
    TomUK is offline Member
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    Default Re: Picking the right word

    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy View Post
    Most people of a certain age in the UK would understand "plonker" in this context - as in "You plonker, Rodney", from the TV comedy "Only Fools and Horses".
    I never thought it would happen to me, but it seems I am now also a member of the 'people of a certain age' group. Apart from 'plonker' I had also considered 'pillock' and some other more offensive words, but I felt that none of them really said in one word what the OP wanted to express.

    TomUK

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Picking the right word

    Quote Originally Posted by Cougar76 View Post
    Hello,


    I'm looking for a right word to use in a sentence, a word describing an incompetent person who messes up everything they touch. The sentence is:


    "Hopefully even a XXX such as yourself can do that!"


    What would be the best (non-vulgar) word to use in this context, to sound natural to a native speaker? Gawk, muff, oaf...? Being a non-native speaker I'm not sure which one to pick :) Thanks!
    Another Yiddish word that would fit is "schlemiel".

  9. #9
    susiedq is offline Member
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    Default Re: Picking the right word

    screwup could also be used.

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