I know there is an idiom 'all thumbs' and 'to have two left feet', but is there an idiom with the same meaning as 'all thumbs'? As in 'to have two left thumbs'?

There is a similar idiom in Polish, German, Czech, and Dutch, but it deals with having two left hands. I do get Google hits for 'two left thumbs' with the same meaning as 'all thumbs', but I cannot find it in any dictionary (Urban Dictionary included).

I also get Google hits for "to have two left hands", but I am not sure whether it is appropriate to use it. Since English is a global language, I do not think anyone would have any trouble understanding the idiom. Perhaps English has been influenced by the above languages? As I see it, both native and non-native speakers seem to be using it nowadays, or am I wrong?

My questions are:

Is the idiom "to have two left thumbs" widespread in the English speaking world? What about "to have two left hands"? Is it also legit and widespread there? I can't find any of those in English dictionaries.

  • 2
    As a native English user, two left thumbs is not recognisable as an idiom - or in fact as an expression at all, although I could envisage it being used in a comic / ironic way, say in regards to being a slow texter on the little keyboard of a smartphone. Similarly, two left hands has no familiarity as a common expression ... so what evidence has led to this question?
    – Cargill
    Nov 29, 2015 at 18:38
  • google.pl/… Multiple sites, forums, and published books.
    – Fae
    Nov 29, 2015 at 18:44
  • 1
    @Faemu "have two left hands" for "be clumsy" is also idiomatic to French. By the way, look what I've found on thesaurus.com thesaurus.com/browse/having%20two%20left%20hands
    – Elian
    Nov 29, 2015 at 19:35
  • You could mix the two metaphors ("being all thumbs" and "having two left hands" (see Elian's find on thesaurus) with little risk of confusion and talk about someone "having twenty left thumbs" as the linked blogger did about his father in paragraph 5.
    – Papa Poule
    Nov 29, 2015 at 20:04
  • 1
    The only idioms I'm familiar with (US Midwest) are "all thumbs" and "two left feet". I'm reasonably sure I've heard others over the years, but I would generally have interpreted them as misstatements of the above two.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 29, 2015 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


I don't know either two left thumbs or two left hands. On a bad day I am all fingers and thumbs. (UK informal - clumsy, awkward maladroit in one's actions).

  • @choster - thank you for the elegant edit. I still haven't worked out how you do what you did (so far, whenever I try and copy the format others use it doesn't work for me)
    – Dan
    Feb 25, 2016 at 21:48
  • No worries. The easiest way to insert a link is with the WYSIWYG. If you prefer to enter it manually, see the Markdown help for a guide to StackExchange's particular implementation of Markdown.
    – choster
    Feb 25, 2016 at 22:16
  • @choster - I think I've got it ! Thanks for your help.
    – Dan
    Feb 25, 2016 at 23:52

This is more of a reference rather than an answer. A similar idiom appears in this episode of Fargo TV series. On about 42nd minute Hank Larsson says to his daughter: "I'm just all left thumbs when it comes to this stuff." He worries about her recently diagnosed cancer and doesn't know how to behave. This is still all thumbs, but it's also left thumbs. According to plot these people live in Luverne, MN.

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