"Donkey-brained" in British English

Lun-14

Banned
Hindi
Hi
I've found the definition of the adjective "Donkey-brained" in Urban dictionary:
A term coined by the great Charlie Kelly meaning someone who possesses inferior intelligence and a lack of sense, similar to a donkey, or activity that would suggest such.
Dennis's eating cereal while driving was completely Donkey-brained. Urban Dictionary: Donkey-brained
I have two questions:
i) Is this adjective common nowadays in BrE?
ii) Can it be used to refer to a student in a class who understands nothing despite how many times their teacher elucidates something to them, a child who makes same mischief despite how many times their parent forbids them to do it, a servant/employee (in a home/in an office) who commits same mistakes how many times the owner of the house/their boss forbids them to do it.
Examples:
(A teacher to his student) John, I've elucidated the concept of "tangential velocity" to you many times. Why don't you understand? Such a donkey-brained you are!
(A mother to his child) Tom, why do you always play cricket in your bedroom instead of playing in the garden? You've broken all the window panes. Such a donkey-brained child you are!
(A house owner to his servant) Tom, you always buy stale vegetables? Don't you have any sense? I've told you many times that you look for fresh vegetables. Such a donkey-brained boy you are!
(A boss to their employee) It's almost a month you've been coming late. What's wrong with you? I've asked you several times that you come on time, but you don't understand. Donkey-brained!



Thanks very much.
 
  • Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    It's not commonly used and it would be extremely inappropriate to use it in any of the ways you suggest.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I agree with Scrawny goat.

    Particularly, it cannot be used as a noun or as an absolute:
    Such a donkey-brained you are! :cross:
    ...but you don't understand. Donkey-brained!:cross:
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's not common, and it wasn't coined by "the great Charlie Kelly" - he's a fictional character.

    If you use the search box you'll find examples of how "donkey brained" can be used. Click on the "in context" link. If you want a noun then it would be "donkey-brain". If you want to be rude to your houseboy then you could say "You are such a donkey-brain". I don't see anything "extremely inappropriate" in that - overbearing and demeaning, yes, but not everybody is kind to their house-servants

    It's not a term of abuse that appears frequently in BE.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I have never heard this term, and I have no idea who Charles Kelly might be. I don't know much about donkeys, except that they are not especially stupid, but I know they are frequently very badly treated in those countries where they are still used as work animals.
    In the UK, donkeys are regarded with great affection. One of our greatest fictional characters is a donkey.

    I don't insult anybody I have any sort of relationship with, not to their face, whether adult or child. It's called 'verbal abuse' in the UK when a responsible person insults people in their charge, or over whom they have power.

    Of course, we have plenty of insulting terms for people whose views and behaviour we consider unintelligent.
    'Donkey-brained' would be ridiculous.
    It would also be ridiculous to insult people using terms they don't understand.
     
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    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    It's not commonly used and it would be extremely inappropriate to use it in any of the ways you suggest.
    I agree that the "donkey-brained" isn't appropriate to be used at someone's face; it sounds very insulting. But I want to know whether it can express that meaning that I've shown via my examples in the OP.
     

    Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    I agree that the "donkey-brained" isn't appropriate to be used at someone's face; it sounds very insulting. But I want to know whether it can express that meaning that I've shown via my examples in the OP.
    See post #6 above.
     

    Dretagoto

    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    But I want to know whether it can express that meaning that I've shown via my examples in the OP.
    Aside from Hermione's point about it being inappropriate due to it not actually representing the animal to which it refers, the meaning would almost certainly be understood simply by context. It's certainly not common in BrE (I don't think I've ever heard it), but there is already a very well-known term which means something similar (though with more emphasis on something being ill thought-out, and less on stupidity): hare-brained. Perhaps better to stick to that.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    It's certainly not common in BrE (I don't think I've ever heard it), but there is already a very well-known term which means something similar (though with more emphasis on something being ill thought-out, and less on stupidity): hare-brained. Perhaps better to stick to that.
    Yes, hare-brained is common to describe a scheme. There's also birdbrain for someone silly and not bright.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I thought this was a language forum. The term "donkey-brained" exists. My post 4 tells the OP how to find examples of its use in published text. It may well be offensive in some contexts but that is true of many of the words discussed here. I wouldn't call my houseboy (if I had one) "donkey-brained", but that doesn't make it "extremely inappropriate". I might say something far more offensive, and that might be verbal abuse. However, there are times when somebody's behaviour merits strong reprobation - for example, an action that could have resulted in death or serious injury might merit something more forceful than "you silly-billy".

    There is, indeed, a much-loved fictional donkey in the Christopher Robin books. He is notable for his stupidity, and A A Milne seems to have subscribed to a stereotype of donkeys of stupidity rather than the common one of stubborness. That seems to make "donkey-brained" a good term for somebody whose behaviour is stupid rather than foolish. A donkey-like reference more based on foolishness is "ass" (the BE one, not the AE one). "Hare-brained" does not have the same meaning, and relates more to silliness or thoughtlessness.
     

    Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    It is indeed a language forum. Language has meaning on a number of levels.

    I have more than enough experience of non-native speakers misusing phrases because they do not know the meta-meaning, the register, the associations, etc. It is entirely valid to point out that a term sounds rude, or sycophantic, or whatever. That is of course a subjective view.

    It is useful for the learner to hear different perspectives. I certainly find it so in my own language learning. In this thread, you do not find the term objectionable, but I do. That is useful information about language. Similarly, some members find that the term has a clear meaning, and others don't.

    From this the learner may safely assume that, while the phrase may work in some situations, it is probably not one to add to the vocabulary notebook, and whoever recommended it may have a slightly unusual sense of what constitutes a meaningful and useful phrase.

    In terms of the learning of the OP and any other learner reading, I see that as a useful response from a forum.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    In what way is "donkey-brained" more objectionable than "flea-brained", "hare-brained" and "bird-brained"? If the animals understood English they might see a difference, but I really can't see one at all.
     

    Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    In what way is "donkey-brained" more objectionable than "flea-brained", "hare-brained" and "bird-brained"? If the animals understood English they might see a difference, but I really can't see one at all.
    You've made that clear. :)
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    There is, indeed, a much-loved fictional donkey in the Christopher Robin books.
    Oh that donkey.

    I've no particular objection to donkey-brained, and might well call my houseboy that if I thought he deserved such mild opprobrium:cool:
     
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    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I have no objection to 'donkey-brained' although I would be careful how I use it in order to avoid offending anyone. After all, we say commonly 'He's a bit of a donkey' to mean 'not particularly bright'.

    I do think donkeys (who are not stupid at all) would be offended by it.:D
     

    rituparnahoymoy

    Senior Member
    Assamese -India
    I have no objection to 'donkey-brained' although I would be careful how I use it in order to avoid offending anyone. After all, we say commonly 'He's a bit of a donkey' to mean 'not particularly bright'.

    I do think donkeys (who are not stupid at all) would be offended by it.:D
    I think , the word "ass" also can be used.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I didn't know that.
    I quote the Oxford dictionaries:

    informal: A stupid or inept person.

    • ‘I had seven names in all: imbecile, donkey, flax-head, dope, glump, ninny, and fool.’
    • ‘We've called him and his ilk everything from thickheaded bozos, to donkeys and pious do-gooders.’
    • ‘I hate it when my words come out like I am a stupid donkey.’
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The point of the objections to "donkey-brained" is that it is uncommon and not particularly idiomatic. Thus, from a non-native speaker, it might be taken as a literal translation from their own language and seen as a mistake.

    <-----Reply to now-deleted post removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->
     
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    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Yes, hare-brained is common to describe a scheme. There's also birdbrain for someone silly and not bright.
    Those came to mind along with "jackass", which seems closest in imagery at any rate.

    From Google definitions:

    jack·ass
    ˈjakˌas/
    noun
    1. 1.
      a stupid person.
     
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