I'm looking for a phrase or short illustration to describe someone completely missing the value of something or someone, e.g. a Sahara tribesman who stumbles across an iPhone and uses it to block a hole in his mud hut...

  • A story? Can you confirm you want an actual story as opposed to an expression or even a short quote?
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 10:00
  • I've updated my question.
    – mr_js
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 10:17
  • 1
    I'm not entirely sure a short story or an illustration request is on-topic for this site. Let's wait for others to weigh in.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 10:18
  • 1
    @TusharRaj agree ... phrases, word usage and/or idioms would be appropriate.
    – lbf
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 13:46
  • 2
    The purpose of the device was completely "lost on him".
    – Intrepidis
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 0:37

2 Answers 2


As in:

A sahara tribesmam stumbled across an iphone. Its use was lost on him as he used it to block a hole in his mud hut.

be lost on (someone) TFD

To have little or no impact or effect on someone; to not be valued, appreciated, or understood by someone.



Note that there's a value judgement hidden in the question. Do objects have 'intrinsic' value, or is their value entirely in the context of the user?

A discharged iPhone away from power and cell towers is merely an interesting mirror or a useful brick. That tribesman made the phone valuable to herself, thus adding value.

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