black thumb

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HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
Hi, you would say you are a green thumb to mean you like taking care of your garden and you do it regularly. But would you also use a black thumb to mean you are not good at it? Is it commonly used? I heard it said on a drama, as in

John: They forsythia?
Nurse: Hydrangea.
John: I don't know much about plants or flowers. I'm kind of a black thumb.
(The dead zone/ Denouncement)
 
  • WyomingSue

    Senior Member
    English--USA
    You have a green thumb if you are good with plants. That is the standard phrase. To have a black thumb is, I think, more of a joking phrase, but still common if the context is clear. If someone described himself by saying "I like to read, I enjoy photography, but I have a black thumb," people would probably not readily understand what he meant, without any mention of gardening.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hi, Sue. So you need the right context to get it across. I see.

    Thanks. Much appreciated.

    Hiro
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The problem with thumbs is s that black and brown all are worthwhile colors in gardening, a venue in which brown manure and rich, black soil are valued as fertile environments.

    I suggest you not try to use an opposite.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think I've only heard of green fingers: considerable talent or ability to grow plants.

    I would interpret 'black thumb' as a joke. It's not clear to me form the above what is meant by 'brown thumb' - good or bad with plants?
     
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