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Some doubts about "daft"

Posted by R. Berg on June 05, 2001

In Reply to: Re: Origins please of "As daft as a brush" posted by Bob on June 05, 2001

: : Does anyone know the origins of the above?

: Type "daft" into the Search box to find a prior discussion.

A search at the site reached by link from that discussion, using "daft" and "brush," didn't turn up anything for me. I have doubts about the proposed explanation. Falling on one's head would tend to produce death or quadriplegia. Besides, the OED's meanings for "brush" don't include a chimney sweep's young helper. (I read somewhere that sweep's helpers were prone to develop some horrible medical problem, maybe a form of cancer, but I think it resulted from exposure to chemicals.)

It may be relevant that in past centuries "daft" meant stupid as well as silly or insane. Daft as a brush = as stupid as an inanimate object?

See the meaning and origin of as daft as a brush.