Not the sharpest bulb in the shed

In our continuing series of confused phrases describing not so intelligent people, Darleen DiGirolamo brings us this one from the website Lucid Nation.  It’s a mash up of “not the sharpest tool in the shed” and “not the brightest bulb in the pack (or chandelier)”, both describing a slow-witted or dull person.  There are lots of descriptions of slow-witted folk, and so they are bound to get mixed up in true malaphor fashion.  Here are a few examples previously posted on this site:

“He wasn’t the brightest bulb in the basket”

“He’s not the sharpest light bulb in the pack”

You’re not the brightest toolbox in the shed”

“not the brightest tool in the shed”

A big thanks to Darleen DiGirolamo for spotting this one! @lucidnation


He’s not the sharpest light bulb in the pack

What’s with light bulbs and tools being confused?  A familiar mash up, this time the congruent conflation is “not the sharpest tool in the shed” and “not the brightest light bulb in the pack”, both describing someone who is not very intelligent.  The various sayings describing a dimwit are similar sounding and involve something in a unit or package that is unique, hence the confusion.   I have posted other variations on this theme – see and

I call the above “idiom overload” when there are just too many sayings swirling around in the head that have the same meaning.  Another example of idiom overload is describing the obvious: “is the Pope Catholic?”. “Does a bear shit in the woods?” etc.  These get mixed up regularly.  A big thanks to Gary Kelly for hearing this one and passing it on!