all thumbs

Idioms & Phrases

all thumbs

Physically awkward, especially with respect to the hands, as in When it comes to knitting, Mary is all thumbs. The notion of this idiom derives from a proverb in John Heywood's collection of 1546: "When he should get aught, each finger is a thumb."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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