T-learning # Idiom
Speak Like a Native

one sandwich short of a picnic

Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) stupid

Well done ! That’s the right answer.

to be one sandwich short of a picnic’ means to be not very intelligent or of questionable mental capacity. The phrase, which is fairly recent, is also used to mean ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’.

Some variations may be ‘His elevator does not go all the way to the top’, ‘Two bricks short of a load’, ‘The lights were on but no one was at home’.

French translation

Il n’a pas toutes ses poules dans son poulailler, il n’a pas la lumière à tous les étages, Il n’a pas inventé le fil à couper le beurre/la poudre/l’eau chaude, Elle a une araignée au plafond, etc.

How NOT to translate : *Il lui manque un sandwich pour faire un pique-nique


Examples in context

‘Galician builders replace neolithic tomb with picnic table

A group of Galician builders proved they were one sandwich short of a picnic when they confused a neolithic tomb with a broken stone picnic table and replaced the 6,000-year-old artefact with a brand spanking new concrete bench.

In what one archaeologist dubbed a "monumental error" the ancient tomb, that had heritage status and was therefore meant to be protected, has been completely destroyed.

The Local ES, 20 Dec. 2015 (Not very current, but so funny !)


‘British Airways are one sandwich short of a picnic and sadly it’s damaging their brand

British Airways seriously need to get a grip on their in-flight catering stock control, because it’s damaging their brand (again). I read recently British Airways were starting to switch their catering from Gate Gourmet to Do&Co. Are they to blame ? Well, something’s going seriously wrong from my recent experience in terms of their ability to supply what is advertised on their in flight menus…’

Craig Watson, LinkedIn, 25 Jan. 2020


Everyday usage

He says he’s going to start a business selling bees as pets. I think he may be one sandwich short of a picnic.

I think the lady down the road is a few sandwiches short of a picnic — you often hear strange bangings at odd hours in the morning.

b) funny

Sorry, wrong answer. Please try again.

c) hungry

Sorry, wrong answer. Please try again.

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