know dick about

  • paul f

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Unfortunately I don't think we have a synonym for dick that fits directly into that structure (it was an interesting few minutes spent thinking about dick :cool:)

    Just thought of a few more British ways of saying it in general though -

    "He hasn't the foggiest about..."
    "He doesn't know diddly squat about..." (maybe US in origin)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    is there no possibility for a literal equivalent /translation dick =>... ?
    It is an idiom, not a literal expression so there is no "literal translation". The person who says "He doesn't know dick about it." is not thinking of a penis or a man named Richard. He's thinking exactly the same thing as if he says "He doesn't know jack (or shit or jackshit or ...)."
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It should be added, for the benefit of non-native speakers, that these are extremely informal (and in the cases of "dick", "shit", "fuck", and "bugger", quite vulgar) expressions.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    I'm only familiar with "knowing dick" (or "shit," or "jackshit," etc.) about something in the negative: I don't know, you don't know, he doesn't know, etc. Although not really comparable, "anything" could be considered to be a "translation" or replacement for "dick." But we don't say, "He knows anything about ...," we say "He doesn't know anything about what he's talking about." Same with "dick" and its other vulgar equivalents.

    The idiom can be used in other tenses, too, but it would have to be with "not":

    He tried to teach me how to fix a carburetor, but he didn't know dick about it.

    If he tries to give a lecture on that, he'll embarrass himself, because he never prepares and he won't know dick about the subject.
     

    Man_from_India

    Senior Member
    Indian English
    So according to the meaning:

    "He knows (sweet) fuck all about something" = "He knows bugger all about something" = "He doesn't know about something at all".

    Though the first two sentences are positive sentences, but those represents a negative meaning.
    Am I right?
     

    paul f

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It can actually be both with some of them and that is where the confusion might stem from. You can in fact say both:

    He knows fuck all about...
    He doesn't know fuck all about...


    The second option is even more informal (given that it is effectively a double negative), however this still means that he knows nothing. It is more colloquial (read: grammatically incorrect) but is common enough to be accepted and understood when heard. The same goes with 'dick':

    He knows dick about cars
    He doesn't know dick about cars


    These both mean that he does not know much about cars.
     
    Last edited:

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    There was an old phrase that said, "He don't know shit from Shinola." "Shinola" was a brand of shoe polish. The meaning was that he was too stupid to even tell the difference between excrement and shoe polish.

    I always assumed that "He don't know shit..." was a shortened form of this phrase. I have no source material for this assumption, however and it may not be correct. (It sounds correct to me.)
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Here in the Midwest we also have "He don't know shit from apple butter." It was fairly late in life that I actually SAW apple butter, and then I understood. (Looks more like the real thing than Shinola does!)

    I've always made the same assumption as Packard, and with exactly the same (lack of) source.
     

    Man_from_India

    Senior Member
    Indian English
    He knows dick about cars
    He doesn't know dick about cars

    Both are same? :confused:
    Then
    "He knows (sweet) fuck all about something" = "He doesn't know fuck all about something"
    "He knows bugger all about something" = "He doesn't know bugger all about something"

    Confusing.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    He knows dick about cars
    He doesn't know dick about cars

    Both are same? :confused:
    Then
    "He knows (sweet) fuck all about something" = "He doesn't know fuck all about something"
    "He knows bugger all about something" = "He doesn't know bugger all about something"

    Confusing.
    jack / dick = nothing (in these contexts)
    shit all / fuck all / bugger all = nothing at all

    Colloquially we can add a negative in an emphatic way, without reversing the first negative, as in:
    I don't know nothing = I know nothing
    I don't know shit = I know shit
     

    whi

    Banned
    It
    He knows dick about cars ....He doesn't know dick about cars ...Both are same? :confused:
    "He knows (sweet) fuck all about something" = "He doesn't know fuck all about something"
    "He knows bugger all about something" = "He doesn't know bugger all about something"...Confusing.
    it is not confusing, cheer up! only pronouns including "some","no" and "any" have a positive or negative connotation. Words [nouns] like "dick", "squat" "fuck" have not.
    moreover, it has been already pointed out that double negative is current in informal English.

    The nearest equivalent, which I think all the other Brits have missed, is "He knows cock all about that".
    that's it , pal!:), thank you, everybody.
     
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