Loose Screw list

I started this list nearly 30 years ago. We have all heard various ways of saying that someone’s cognitive abilities are lacking, or at least suspect. The most common way is “The lights are on, but nobody’s home.” I heard some other sayings with the same meaning, and started writing them down in my notebook. Once in a while someone would tell me another they had heard, and I’d add it to the list. Once the list got fairly long, I started checking it when I heard one to see if I already had it, and I usually have. When I was checking on one the other day, I decided I would share the list in this blog. If you know of any really good ones I don’t have, please add a comment.

The lights are on but nobody’s home.

He’s a few bricks short of a load.

His dice don’t have all of their spots.

His solar panels are facing north.

He has a loose screw somewhere.

He’s playing with half a deck.

He’s driving without his lights on.

He’s always home but the lights aren’t always on.

A few sandwiches short of a picnic.

A few pickles short of a barrel.

His engine’s not firing on all cylinders.

There are fewer marbles than advertised.

His elevator doesn’t stop on all floors.

Starting up the car with the garage door closed.

His train of thought is still boarding at the station.

One tree short of a hammock.

Rowing with one oar.

He’s definitely not walking with the rest of the ducks.

Someone went to Australia, and brought back these for me:

There are kangaroos in the top paddock.

He has white ants in the top attic.

A British one:

He’s tuppence off the shilling.

A friend heard these:

Backs like Mules, Minds like tractors.

His golf bag doesn’t have all its irons.

A few spark plugs short of a running engine.

I heard Robin Williams said this one:

“One taco short of a combination plate.”

Jesse on Full House said this (I did say I started this list a LONG time ago.)

“Two grapes short of a fruit salad.”

Joe Bob Briggs said this:

“I think he lives out there where the bus don’t go no more.”

Shann Nix said this one back when she had a radio program on KGO:

“A few French fries short of a Happy Meal.”

The ‘Capitol Steps’ while doing a parody song about Ross Perot said this (and I don’t remember if they were saying this about Perot or someone else.)

“One chewy short of a Whitman’s Sampler.”

Local historian Sandy Lydon said this:

     “Half a bubble out of plumb.”

Can’t remember the source:

    [Some Washington, D. C. congress members]  “don’t have their tray tables in the full     upright and locked position.”

The reason I was looking at the list yesterday is that I was on Facebook and saw a picture of a level, slightly tilted, and it was titled “half a bubble off.” I would have put the picture here, but I can’t scroll down far enough to find it again. I decided to Google images for ‘half a bubble off,’ and found lots of pictures of tilted levels, and this definition, which you can buy on T-shirts and mugs (from Urban Dictionary.com):

“not all there, mentally speaking. A couple of sentences short of a paragraph, a few shards of pottery short of a full anthropological theory, a few wafers short of a communion, one’s belt doesn’t go through all of the loops, one’s driveway doesn’t quite make it to the road…I THINK YA GET THE PICTURE!”

So now I have five more for the list.



From harborrose: His rose has lost its petals.

William N.:  One can less than a six pack.

Dwight S.: A few lights out in the marquee.  A passenger on the Disoriented Express.  Not the sharpest tool in the chest. Not the brightest penny in the till.

Cissy F.: Not a long ball hitter. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. A couple eggs short of an omelette.

Elaine L.: He ain’t wrapped too tight.

Pat P.: He’s not rowing with both oars in the water.

Seen on Facebook: More horse than sense.

Pat P. again: Some people are one noodle short of a stir-fry.

Found these on Facebook- supposedly comments about students:

1. Since my last report, your child has reached rock bottom and has started to dig.

2. I would not allow this student to breed.

3. Your child has delusions of adequacy.

4. Your son is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot. (my favorite…)

5. Your son sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.

6. The student has a ‘full six-pack’ but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together.

7. This child has been working with glue too much.

8. When your daughter’s IQ reaches 50, she should sell.

9. The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn’t coming..

10. If this student were any more stupid, he’d have to be watered twice a week.

11. From “Golden Girls”: He’s lost the stuffing in his comforter.

12. From Facebook:


13. It’s impossible to believe the sperm that created this child beat out 1,000,000 others.

Comic strip ‘Pickles’: “His grandpa wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.”



About Jill Perry

Since 2005, I have been the Curator of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, a part of Guadalupe River Parks and Gardens near downtown San Jose. I write about the Heritage Rose Garden, my garden and my travels when I feel inspired and have time. Since I have no regular schedule, if you'd like to know when I write a new article, please subscribe to this blog.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Loose Screw list

  1. Elaine Livengood says:

    “He ain’t wrapped too tight”

  2. Max Davy says:

    ‘He’s got a couple of pages stuck together’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s