I've learned all thumbs means physically awkward, especially with respect to the hands.

Is there any word or phrase to describe it in mentally?

The opposite of smooth talker or handling other people well.

  • 1
    I'd suggest 'inarticulate', if you mean clumsiness of expression rather than thought.
    – JHCL
    Oct 14, 2015 at 6:07

2 Answers 2


Regarding the ability to handle people well, I would perhaps use the expression people skills. Example: "He lacks people skills".

people skills: the ability to deal with people well (Longman)

Regarding the opposite of smooth talker, I suggest the expression tongue-tied. Example: Why was she always so tongue-tied with this man?

tongue-tied: unable to express yourself clearly or fluently (Princeton WordNet)

  • in the UK I think 'social-skills' would be better than 'people-skills', though in the context of the question I don't think either is good. However, 'tongue-tied' is IMO really apt.
    – rivimey
    Oct 14, 2015 at 11:44

You could say, they are conversationally/socially inept.

inept: lacking skill or ability: showing a lack of skill or ability : not done well


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