Not know beans



verb phrase

(Variations: diddly or diddley or diddly-damn or diddly-poo or diddly-poop or diddly-shitor diddly-squat or diddly-squirt or diddlywhoop or shit or squat or zilch or zip may replace beans) To be very ignorant; not know even the fundamentals •In each case the positive and negative idiom have the same meaning: You don’t know beans, do you?/ may have been England’s greatest mathematical puzzle inventor, but he knew beans about spiders and flies

[1833+; entry form fr an old joke question, found by 1830, ”How many blue beans make five white?”]
Also, not know the first thing; not know from nothing. Be ignorant about something, as in a poem published in the Yale Literary Magazine in 1855: “When our recent Tutor is heard to speak, This truth one certainly gleans, Whatever he knows of Euclid and Greek, In Latin he don’t know beans.” The beans in this colloquial phrase, dating from the early 1800s, signify something small and worthless; not knowing the first thing about something clearly shows one doesn’t know anything about it at all; and the third slangy phrase, with its double negative, implies stupidity as well as ignorance, as in Poor girl, just starting out and she doesn’t know from nothing.

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  • Not know from nothing

    verb phrase To be ignorant; be deeply uninformed or ill-informed: Gallo knows from nothing [1936+; fr Yiddish nit zu wissen fin gornisht] Related Terms know from nothing

  • Not know shit from shinola

    verb phrase NOT KNOW one’s ASS FROM one’s ELBOW •Often euphemized: a tightfisted banker who doesn’t know what from Shinola/ In high school I didn’t know shoot from Shinola [1930+; fr Shinola2, a brand of shoe polish; used partly for a suggestion of brown color, mainly for alliteration]



  • Not know someone from adam

    verb phrase (also Adam’s off ox or from Adam’s house cat)Tobe entirely unacquainted with or uncognizant of: We’re bigger than 90 percent of the companies on the Big Board, but nobody knows us from Adam/ I didn’t know from Adam’s house cat who Nolan Ryan was (entry form 1843+, ox 1890+, cat 1908+) Be unable […]

  • Not know something if it bit someone

    verb phrase To be quite ignorant and unperceptive: Kuttner wouldn’t know a strategic trade policy if it bit him on the leg (1990s+)



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