What Does a Bad Workman Blames His Tools Mean?

A Bad Workman Blames His Tools Meaning

Definition: Someone who says his tools or equipment is the reason for his failure must not be very good at what he does.

Origin of A Bad Workman Blames His Tools

The idea behind this expression is that a good workman would take full responsibility for any fault and not try to blame his equipment. Therefore, someone blaming poor work on his or her tools must not be very skilled.

In other words, a person who is unskilled cannot do skilled work even with the very best tools.

People use this expression to talk about a person’s work in his or her profession. However, it is also possible to use this idiom to discuss any task that a person completes.

Examples of A Bad Workman Blames His Tools

a bad workman quarrels with his tools In the dialogue below, two friends are talking about the cookies that one of them baked.

Ezekiel: Hey! Try these cookies that I just made last night.

Maggie: Okay, thanks. Bleh! I’m sorry to tell you this, but this isn’t very good.

Ezekiel: What’s wrong with it?

Maggie: Did you taste any of your cookies yet?

Ezekiel: No, why?

Maggie: It tastes like these cookies are raw and have way too much salt.

Ezekiel: Well, it’s not my fault. My oven must have malfunctioned and my measuring cups must have been mislabeled.

Maggie: A bad workman blames his tools.

Ezekiel: What are you saying?

Maggie: Even with a malfunctioning oven and mislabeled measuring cups, you have no excuse for cookies this terrible. You need baking lessons.

a bad worker blames his tools In this example, two friends are discussing a painting that one of them made.

Tyrion: What do you think of my latest work of art?

Mila: Um…Do you want an honest answer?

Tyrion: It’s awful, isn’t it?

Mila: It’s probably not your fault. Maybe the paint was too old.

Tyrion: No, a bad workman blames his tools. I take full responsibility for this catastrophe. I need to start all over again.

More Examples

This excerpt is about the car brands most likely to be involved in an accident.

  • Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “They say a bad workman blames his tools and the road safety stats show human error is the cause of the vast majority of accidents.” –The Sun

This excerpt is from an article about people competing to have a stick move faster down a river.

  • But his friends, Rhea Draguisky, 32, and first-timer Steph Avis, 27, both from Oxford, believed he was a loser. Avis, who won the round, said: “A poor workman blames his tools.” –The Guardian

Summary

The proverb a bad workman blames his tools means a person’s skill isn’t dependent on his tools.