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Too smart by half

Posted by David FG on September 30, 2005

In Reply to: Too smart by half posted by Bob on September 29, 2005

: : So where does "Too smart by half" come from? And if "Too smart by half" is an insult, wouldn't "Too smart by 100%" be even worse? (Or maybe I'm being too smart by half?)

: Too smart by half would be 150%, and too smart by 100% would be 200%, so actually, you'd be too smart by 33%. It's a British usage, mostly, little used in the US. Most often "too clever by half, I believe. As is this explanation.

UK and Irish usage would indeed normally be 'too clever by half'. 'Smart' is not commonly used (in my experience) to mean 'clever' this side of the Atlantic.

It was once said of Jonathon Miller (medic, comedian, writer, producer, director, etc etc) that he was 'too clever by three-quarters'.