I'm writing something in a tone that is just a little too formal for "he doesn't know the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground" or "he doesn't know dipshit." I need something that doesn't include words like ass or shit, but that still gets the idea across and packs some punch. For example, "doesn't know his eye from his elbow" doesn't do it for me.

(This question was already asked within a different question, but didn't get any good answers. I can't place a bounty because the main question was closed.)

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    Your "different question" link seems broken. Why did the other answers not suffice? Could you post some of them here? – rajah9 May 2 at 12:54
  • @rajah9 - Thank you. I fixed the link. "Know the difference between shit and Shinola," "Can't tell your arse from your elbow." I don't want to use shit or arse in this piece of writing. – aparente001 May 2 at 13:00
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    Or you could type "doesn't know his" into Google and see what it comes up with. It liked "head from a hole in the ground" for me, which I guess is even more insulting than your title example, given the convex nature of heads and the concave nature of holes. – Pam May 2 at 13:53
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    FYI, a dipshit is a type of person, “jack shit” is what someone doesn’t know. – Jim May 2 at 17:13
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    Couldn’t pour water from a bucket if the instructions were written on the bottom. – Jim May 2 at 17:17

As stated in a comment, I typed "doesn't know his" into Google to see what it came up with. It liked "head from a hole in the ground".

From Wiktionary

know one's head from a hole in the ground

Synonym of know one's ass from a hole in the ground


What he doesn't know could fill a book.

This is an idiomatic way of expressing the breadth and depth of one's ignorance. It should be used to express someone's lack of knowledge in an area that they ought to know something about. If you want to be hyperbolic, replace book with library for greater effect.

  • But this person is stupider than that. It's not just that there's a ton of stuff she doesn't know. What she thinks she knows is all wrong, and she has no idea. Not knowing her head from a hole in the ground -- fits as well as the original without the one troublesome word. But thanks anyway. – aparente001 May 9 at 2:20

He's on a different planet

He's a sixpence short of a shilling

He's as daft as a brush

He's not playing with a full deck (of cards)

He's as thick as a plank (of wood)

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