As Daft as a Brush

Meaning of “As Daft as a Brush”

The phrase “as daft as a brush” means a very stupid or a very foolish person. It is often used for a person who always does stupid acts. In some occasions, it is also an insult when a person has a very high expectations from the opposite person.

Origin of “As Daft as a Brush”

The origin of “as daft as a brush” appears to have emerged from “as daft as a besom” used by William Dickinson in A glossary of Words and phrases of Cumberland published in 1859. In this dictionary, this phrase goes thus; “Ey, as daft as a besom” which means stupid. Then it has appeared in a newspaper Lincolnshire Echo in its June 1944 publication in its original form “daft as brush” as given in a sentence given below.

“I will agree with anything that says I am daft, daft as a brush, but I have enough sense to keep away from your daughter.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

The Life of Blur by Martin Power

“Riddled with memorable catchphrases and featuring a chorus most bands would happily kill for, ‘Parklife’ was another potential monster in the making. To make sure of it, Food hired film maker Pedro Romhanyi to direct a suitably eye-catching video. Daft as a brush from start to finish, the final product had Daniels and Albarn playing a pair of oily double-glazing salesman, while Rowntree and James hammed it up as happy couple ‘Ken and Cindy,’ the bassist dressed in drag especially for the occasion. All the good roles now gone, Coxon was forced to put on a fat suit play ‘Parklife’s least endearing character, the gym-shy ‘Gut Lord Marching.’

This paragraph as been taken from The Life of Blur, the story of Blur, a rock English band, and its four maestros Coxon, Rowntree, Albarn, and James. This paragraph sheds light on how they burgeoned Parklife but their video Pedro Romhanyi recorded proved highly stupid. The use of the phrase shows that this video did not prove successful as four of took up roles that did not suit them. Therefore, the video seemed a foolish act.

Example #2

The Valley: A Hundred Years in the Life of a Family by Richard Benso

“Millie, who likes dances, suggested that one at the Miners’ Welfare Hall because she was on the bill. She performs with a young amateur singer comedian from Bolton-upon Dearne known as the Juggler, and he has asked her to do a couple of songs with him and the band. ‘You’ll have to come and meet him!’ she told Winnie. ‘He’s a good sport, but he’s as daft as a brush.’”

This story of the Hollingworth family of the Dearne Valley presents the character of Millie who is to perform with a young comedian the Juggler. However, she calls him stupid using this phrase. The use of this phrase shows the intelligence of this girl as she considers herself superior to that comedian. Therefore, she uses this phrase to prove that he cannot perform with her.

Example #3

Semantic Enigmas” from The Guardian

“Actually the full expression is: Daft as a brush and not half as useful. In the days of chimney sweeps children were often used to clean chimnies as they were the only ones small enough to access the chimney to sweep it out. They were held upside down inside the chimney and accidents frequently ensued resulting, of course in brain injury. Hence the expression “daft” which means silly, unable to concentrate etc.” (Courtesy by Bev Paras, Sydney, Australia)

This paragraph by an Australian, Bev Paras, tries to pinpoint the origin of this phrase. The interesting thing about this paragraph is that it has linked it to some plausible past actions of the chimney sweepers and the use of daft in the meanings of silly or stupid. It shows how daft has been linked to the chimney sweepers on account of brain injuries they received when sweeping chimneys.

Example #4

The Road Leading to Hell by Flamy Lawword

“Tseronida does not attract me at all. It is not enough that she is clumsy; in addition, she is as daft as a brush,” he doubted.
Then there was the master of intrigues.
“You must marry Tseronida. Her stupidity is in your hands. She is not a beauty, I understand you. What are superfluous troubles to you for?”

These lines are taken from the story of Flamy Lawword titled “The Road Leading to Hell.” The story is about the people of Atlantis, a world existed around a million year earlier. Here she presents the character of Tseronida who does not seem attractive as the narrator calls her stupid using this phrase in the very first sentence.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “My grandmother says I have to choose my friends wisely. She says almost all of my friends are as daft as brushes.”

Example #2: “If you don’t stick one decision and don’t do enough research, people might say you are as daft as a brush.”

Example #3: “Johnson has tried his best to keep his head high, but he looked as daft as a brush when he entered the arena.”

Example #4: “Leo believed the polar bears and penguins were friends. He was as daft as a brush until he learned the difference between the North and the South poles.”

Example #5: “When you don’t change with times and learn to use the technology, you will remain as daft as a brush.”