"Yet the Tories have gambled, choosing a populist leader who is nobody’s idea of a safe pair of hands."

What does it mean by saying "nobody's idea of sth?"

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is no understanding of it that involves the meaning or syntax the remark in question. It is therefore not appropriate for ELU.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 7:22

2 Answers 2


Consider the opposite:

Dr. X is everybody's idea of a safe pair of hands

Consider a group of people and each has an idea, or image, in their mind of what a safe pair of hands looks/acts like. This description means that every person in the group agrees Dr. X fits every person's idea of what a safe pair of hands looks like.

Dr. X is nobody's idea of a safe pair of hands

In your example, the exact opposite is true. Everyone in the group still has an idea in their mind, but this time Dr. X doesn't fit any of those ideas.

This statement can acknowledge that there is diversity of opinion in a group, and yet not a single person thinks that Dr. X fits their individual opinion.


Definition of a safe pair of hands

a safe pair of hands. UK. someone who you can trust to do an important job well, without making mistakes: Colleagues regard her as a safe pair of hands. Loyal, faithful & dependable. https://dictionary.cambridge.org › a-... A SAFE PAIR OF HANDS | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary

The writer is saying that nobody views the new British PM in this way, although they may have various judgments about him; thus there’s more uncertainty than there might be otherwise.

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