He's such a tool!

Discussion in 'English Only' started by 3alarmchili, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. 3alarmchili

    3alarmchili Junior Member

    :warn: Some people will find this offensive. :warn:

    I have often heard people say "He is such a tool". I understand that this is a reference to male genitals, right? But is it meant to mean he is ridiculous or obnoxious or obnoxious in a silly way or something else? Because I know that :warn:prick:warn: means someone is obnoxious and nasty and maybe aggressive. Is "tool" a gentler word?
     
  2. MJRupeJM Senior Member

    USA
    English- U.S.
    I'm not sure of the origin of "tool" as a derogatory term, and it may well originally have been a reference to genitals. In common use, at least in AE though, I think that meaning has been lost. For example, "tool" is not a synonym for "dick," or "prick," which certainly are references to genitals. "Tool" has various uses but the best definition is probably "fool,"; an unintelligent person who cannot think for themselves; a poser.

    EDIT: On second thought, I think the derogatory "tool," must have come from the common meaning of "tool" (i.e. an instrument). A "tool" let's other people use them; they can't think for themselves.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2009
  3. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    The most common use is to describe someone (usually a guy) who is too stupid to know he's being used (he is literally a tool for someone else). Probably the second most common use is for someone who's just an idiot or screw-up. There are other interpretations, and you can check out some of them here.
     
  4. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    He's such a tool! This is not, in today's colloquial AE, a direct equivalent to "He's such a prick/dick/etc." Once upon a time tool was, among other things, a slang word for penis. Those too young to remember it in that usage are invited to find the E.E. Cummings poem about politicians. I think it begins something like...

    "the way to hump a cow is not to get yourself a stool
    but draw a line around the spot and call it beautifool"

    Somewhat later it uses tool in the older sense:


    "the way to hump a cow is not to elevate your tool"

    As used today, the word is similar to dickhead, jerk, asshat, moron, and the usual
    variety of such terms of endearment.
     
  5. xqby

    xqby Senior Member

    Santa Maria, CA
    English (U.S.)
    I'm actually familiar with tool meaning penis.
    I think that this is because of the band Tool's memorable (perhaps it merits a :warning:) illustration of the term.

    Nonetheless, I agree with the general consensus that it means something more like "cretin" in "He's such a tool."
     
  6. 3alarmchili

    3alarmchili Junior Member

    Thank you. I was going to compare it to dickhead, too. That is definitely a penis reference, which is why I thought that "tool" is, too.

    So tool and dickhead are more like cretin and idiot and less like dick and prick?

    I am so, so sorry for this topic. It's my stupid curiosity. :(
     
  7. MJRupeJM Senior Member

    USA
    English- U.S.
    Unfortunately, none of the above have precise dictionary definitions, and they are used in a variety of ways with a variety of meanings. In general however, a "dick" or "prick" is a rude, cruel, obnoxious person; an asshole. "Tool," is generally a stupid, annoying, unsophisticated person; an idiot or a cretin. "Dickhead," could probably mean either a "tool" or a "dick."
     

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