A while ago I had a con­ver­sa­tion with a col­league of mine, and we’re talk­ing about an ap­pli­cant who ap­plied for a po­si­tion that he does not have any back­ground knowl­edge of, no ex­pe­ri­ence with the said field and com­plete­ly un­a­ware of what he is get­ting him­self in­to.

He had not even done any re­search be­fore­hand and so did not un­der­stand even the name of the po­si­tion. I said that he was “point blank” with my col­league and we con­tin­ued our dis­cus­sion: none of us no­ticed I had used the wrong id­iom/phrase.

Later tonight, I felt that some­thing was wrong and re­mem­bered the phrase I used wrong­ly, so I tried to think of that spe­cif­ic phrase that I meant to say but had failed to do so cor­rect­ly. It’s sup­posed to mean some­thing like “go­ing in­to a gun­fight emp­ty-hand­ed” or “tak­ing an ex­am with­out study­ing”.

Goo­gle not seem to help, and I don’t know any na­tive English speak­ers in real life.

I post­ed this on red­dit, and got some real­ly close an­swers like “Jump­ing in the deep end” or “Go­ing in blind” which are close to what I was mean­ing to say cause it sup­posed to sound like go­ing to reck­less­ly com­mit your­self in­to some­thing while be­ing ig­no­rant of the things you’re about to en­count­er, or some­thing like that.

But it still doesn’t sound right; can you help me find the phrase I’m look­ing for?

  • I think "jumping in at the deep end" and "going in blind" are valid, they both connote a lack of awareness of what the protagonist faces and, by extension, imply some recklessness. Of these, the former addresses the potential recklessness more clearly, with its implications of drowning. Can you explain why neither of these answers suffice? – glytching Jul 18 '17 at 15:51
  • This might be useful, english.stackexchange.com/questions/38103/… – Steve Lovell Jul 18 '17 at 17:07
  • Next time could you leave out all before "… something like 'going into a gunfight empty-handed' or 'taking an exam without studying…" and start with something useful, please? – Robbie Goodwin Dec 12 '18 at 1:47
  • Further, when 'Jumping in the deep end' or 'Going in blind' are close; when what you meant to say sounded like going to recklessly commit yourself into something while being ignorant of what you're about to (any sense or whatever)... but it still doesn't sound right, what does it sound like? – Robbie Goodwin Dec 12 '18 at 1:52

A few possible idioms that come to mind are:

"Rushing in where angels fear to tread" (line from Alexander Pope, leaving implicit that the rushing is done by a fool). This seems better than "jumping in the deep end", which speaks more of courage than clueless bravado. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fools_rush_in_where_angels_fear_to_tread

"Like a bull in a china store", implying a total and inexcusable lack of awareness.

"All guts and no brains", similar to the first one. This would be a play on the idiom "All brawn and no brains" quote by JFK (which I can't find a link to, sorry).

  • Also, "jumping in head first". Similar to jumping in the deep end. Both are used to mean one of 2 things: either "think before you leap" OR "just go for it" (without the negative connotation that you haven't thought it through) – Kace36 Jul 18 '17 at 23:46

An idiom that would work well in this context is out to lunch. Its two figurative meanings together would make a pretty good description of your candidate. From Dictionary.com:

Not in touch with the real world, crazy; also, inattentive.

From what you describe, your applicant must have been out of touch with reality to apply and completely oblivious to the requirements of the job. The fact that the idiom derives from the literal meaning of people being out of the office rather than paying attention to business makes it work especially well for a clueless job applicant.

If a single word would work for you rather than a phrase, I think both oblivious and clueless would also be reasonable choices in your example.


Going into a gunfight with a knife

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