The idiom “thick as two short planks” is employed to describe a person who is regarded as not very intelligent or lacking common sense.
A slightly derogatory yet often humorously intended expression, it paints an image of someone whose mental capabilities are as simplistic and uncomplicated as two pieces of wood.
When one utters this idiom, they’re suggesting that the individual in question might not grasp things that others find relatively straightforward. For instance, if someone fails to understand a simple concept or instruction, they might be branded as being “thick as two short planks.”
Thick as Two Short Planks Idiom Origins
The origins of the idiom “thick as two short planks” are somewhat unclear, though Google’s historical data, based on usage of terms in historical newspapers and books, seems to show that it’s relatively new, growing from about the 1960s:
The expression seems to create a vivid and somewhat humorous mental image which might be suggestive of the meaning:
- Physical Representation: The simplicity of two short planks, with “thick” often being used in colloquial English to imply slowness in intellect, conjures a portrayal of something (or someone) devoid of complexity and depth.
- Common Use: Over time, the idiom has woven its way into everyday language, primarily in the United Kingdom, as a light-hearted, though potentially hurtful, way to describe someone’s lack of intelligence or common sense.
In present-day language, the idiom remains relatively common within informal conversations, especially within British English, as a playful, albeit sometimes sharp, retort or description.
10 Examples in a Sentence
- “I explained the rules five times, but he’s as thick as two short planks and still doesn’t understand.”
- “You’d have to be thick as two short planks not to see what she’s doing.”
- “I can’t believe he didn’t get the joke; he’s thick as two short planks sometimes.”
- “Trying to explain the situation to her is frustrating—she’s thick as two short planks.”
- “Despite his qualifications, when it comes to common sense, he’s as thick as two short planks.”
- “She’s a nice girl, but thick as two short planks.”
- “I won’t ask him for advice because he’s thick as two short planks.”
- “Don’t expect a deep conversation with him; he’s thick as two short planks.”
- “Some people might say he’s thick as two short planks, but I think he’s just a bit naive.”
- “She believes every rumor because she’s as thick as two short planks.”
1. Not the sharpest tool in the shed
Definition: Lacking intelligence or common sense.
In a Sentence: “He may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’s a hard worker.”
2. A few sandwiches short of a picnic
Definition: Slightly irrational or crazy.
In a Sentence: “She’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic if she believes that story.”
3. A few fries short of a Happy Meal
Definition: Acting in a way that suggests a lack of intelligence or common sense.
In a Sentence: “He must be a few fries short of a Happy Meal to invest in that scheme.”
4. The lights are on but nobody’s home
Definition: Present physically but not mentally or intellectually.
In a Sentence: “I tried to explain it to her, but the lights are on, and nobody’s home.”
5. Dumb as a box of rocks
Definition: Very stupid or dumb.
In a Sentence: “He may be handsome, but he’s as dumb as a box of rocks.”
6. Not the brightest bulb in the box
Definition: Lacking brightness, in terms of intelligence.
In a Sentence: “He’s not the brightest bulb in the box, but he means well.”
7. Dumber than a bag of hammers
Definition: Extremely unintelligent.
In a Sentence: “If you trust him with your money, you’re dumber than a bag of hammers.”
8. Dumb as a post
Definition: Lacking intelligence.
In a Sentence: “It’s hard to talk to her; she’s as dumb as a post.”
9. His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top
Definition: Not completely sane or intelligent.
In a Sentence: “Be cautious around him; his elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top.”
10. Slow on the uptake
Definition: Slow to understand or perceive.
In a Sentence: “Explain it to him again; he’s a bit slow on the uptake.”
11. Bats in the belfry
Definition: Crazy or eccentric.
In a Sentence: “Don’t listen to his theories; he’s got bats in the belfry.”
12. Not playing with a full deck
Definition: Lacking intelligence or not mentally sound.
In a Sentence: “He must not be playing with a full deck if he thinks that’s a good idea.”