I've been told that a "one-trick pony" is an American saying. What is the British equivalent for it?

  • 3
    Just in case there is any doubt, while one-trick pony may have a US origin, though no-one has verified that as yet, it is perfectly understood and widely used in British English. No-one would be confused by it.
    – Spagirl
    Jun 30, 2017 at 7:58

2 Answers 2


Consider the following, which looks at the issue from a different perspective: instead of saying it can only do one thing, this speaks about wanting to do more than just one thing.

have another/more than one string to your bow uk to have more than one interest, skill, or resource that you can use if you need to: I enjoy my work, but I'd like to have another string to my bow in case I lose my job. - Cambridge Dictionary

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    And this can be used as in: They only have one string in their bow. Jun 30, 2017 at 7:31

Aside from one-hit wonder, I grew up believing the phrase is equivalent to:


It was invented by an Englishman, Sir John Schorne, and really is a 'one trick pony' in that after you've seen it once, there is little fascination with the toy left.

  • 4
    I've never heard jack-in-the-box refer to anything other than the toy or to someone who can't sit still. Can you give an example of it use that shows equivalence to one-trick pony?
    – Spagirl
    Jun 30, 2017 at 7:54

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