How is the phrase 'can't carry a tune in a bucket' originate?


Senior Member
I know the 'can't carry a tune' means 'can't sing well'
So, I think the 'can't carry a tune in a bucket' means 'very poor at singing'.
Is that right? If so, what's the origin of that phrase?

Thank your for you help in advance. Have a nice day!
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    “How did the phrase originate?”

    A bucket makes it easier to carry things. So, if you can’t carry a tune and then someone gives you a bucket and you STILL can’t carry a tune, you must be VERY bad at singing:)


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    It is a pun on the word "carry".

    The phrase "carry a toon" means to sing the notes correctly: not too high-pitch, not too low-pitch.

    A different meaning of "carry" is to move an object while personally holding it in your hands (or on your shoulders, or in a bucket, or in a backpack, etc.).

    So someone thought of combining the two meanings in a joke.
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