I can put that as wading in the darkness, being totally lost or taking a shot and missing big. However, I'm looking for a far more metaphorical expression.

The subject of the epithet should be assumed to have stated an opinion or attempted an action of a very well defined aim. For instance:

- "You can say your home or you're home - it doesn't matter which because we get your point."


A shooter trying to erase all the data in a computer by shooting the screen.

In the local language, we say they're out bicycling and it means just what the above expression do but unless the interlocutor can infer the meaning from the context (or knows it from elsewhere), they'd have little chance of getting it right and any guess in that regard would be, well... being out bicycling... (tiny whoohoo-wave for the circular reference).

  • 1
    In my vernacular, such people are away with the fairies Dec 27, 2015 at 18:39
  • 2
    If I had cared to post an answer rather than a comment, I would have done so. You're welcome to post a comment yourself explaining why away with the fairies either is or isn't the kind of term you're looking for, and you or anyone else is welcome to Copy&Paste it into an actual answer. Personally, I'd say there's a fair "metaphorical distance" between, say, fumbling in the dark/clutching at straws and missing big/being way off-beam. But do you actually care which end of that spectrum people pick up on? Dec 27, 2015 at 18:56
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Done. Dec 27, 2015 at 19:36
  • 1
    Not wishing to be awkward, I don't see what the first example is getting at. I could point out out that you can't actually say "your" or "you're", because in speech they're unavoidably identical, but is that what you're getting at? That's to say - is the point of the example to show someone saying something "totally and demonstrably incorrect"? The second example seems to be in that general area. Dec 27, 2015 at 19:50
  • 1
    According to William Safire, He's Looney Tunes is a policeman's way of describing a subject as crazed. But I'd say Safire is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land if he thinks there's any reason to specifically associate that expression with what policemen say. Dec 27, 2015 at 21:51

3 Answers 3



out in left field Ngram

Slang Completely mistaken; wrong

Also, out of left field. Eccentric, odd; also, mistaken. For example, The composer's use of dissonance in this symphony is way out in left field, or His answer was out of left field; he was totally wrong. This idiom refers to baseball's left field but the precise allusion is disputed

Random House


You could also consider using off-base which means:

Wrong, relying on a mistaken premise, as in His description of the accounting system was totally off base. This metaphoric term originated in baseball, where a runner who steps off a base can be put out. [c. 1940]

[The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms]

Fig. unrealistic; inexact; wrong (Typically: be off-base; get off-base.): I'm afraid you're off base when you state that this problem will take care of itself. You're way off base if you think I was to blame!

[McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002]

You can add adverbs such as totally and way before it to intensify the idiom.

  • Good suggestion in general. I'll be using that expression as well. In this particular case, I specifically require a term that'll be incomprehensible to the interlocutor unless inferred from the context or know prior to the conversation. (Not because I want to confuse the audience but because I wish to exemplify the linguistic gotchas and wtfs.) Dec 28, 2015 at 9:56

I'd propose "He's gone off the deep end on this one." here. "to go off the deep end" is synonymous with diverging from rationality while "on this one" limits the scope to a particular topic rather than making a general statement about the person's sanity.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.