the sharpest pencil in the box

Discussion in 'English Only' started by zwxsnake, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. zwxsnake Senior Member

    Chengdu,China
    Chinese
    Hi,

    I’m not always the sharpest pencil in the box, but I’ve got a knack for knowing when people are trying to pull my leg. And so far as I could tell, Graham—or whoever he was—was on the level.

    This is from the novella Einstein's Shadow. Does "the sharpest pencil in the box" here mean: the smartest people?

    Thanks !
     
  2. kloie Senior Member

    Texas
    English
    The brightest,smartest.
    Another one is sharpest tool in the shed.
     
  3. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    "He's not the brightest light on the Christmas tree."
    There are a number of similar expressions used to say someone is stupid. Good examples of the rhetorical figure called litotes.
     
  4. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    And these are almost always negative in actual use. You say someone is not the sharpest pencil in the box, not that they are the sharpest.
     
  5. zwxsnake Senior Member

    Chengdu,China
    Chinese
    Right... not the sharpest. Thank you all !
     

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