green thumb

Definition: Skilled at gardening/growing plants

Example: Simone definitely possessed a green thumb. Her sunflowers were so large, she was going to need a chainsaw to cut them down.


Gardeners were originally described  as having ‘green fingers‘ in the UK in the 1930s. In the US, the phrase surfaced as ‘green thumb‘ a decade later, where it has remained the sole term. Meanwhile, back in the UK, ‘green thumb‘ appeared alongside its original incarnation, and both are used today.

Its no great stretch of the imagination to make the connection between green fingers or thumbs and somebody who works in a garden. It is said to specifically relate to the handling of clay pots, where the green algae that builds up along their rim stains the handler’s hands.

A widely disputed origin claims it relates to King Edward I. Apparently he loved green peas. Kitchen staff were put into competition to find who could shell the most peas, the best sheller receiving a prize. All the participants were rewarded with green stained thumbs for their efforts.

Iddy doesn’t think this sounds plausible. If hundreds of hours of watching TV has taught him one thing, it is that Kings don’t love green peas. They love beheadings and getting rid of their wives. In fact, a King likes nothing more than an activity that combines both of those.

Iddy also had a bit of difficulty illustrating this idiom. After all, he already has a green thumb. If you want to be really picky about his interpretation, he’s actually illustrating a ‘greener thumb.’


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