As useless as a chocolate teapot

Example in use: “He’s so hopeless! I asked him to organise the refreshments for our team meeting and what a disaster that was! He ordered half as many drinks as we needed, forgot to think about tea – even though we had many British team members attending, and then only ordered a few biscuits and a bowl of fruit although I told him we needed a full finger food lunch. That boy is as useless as a chocolate teapot!”

Meaning: something which is totally useless and obviously cannot possibly serve the purpose of the item/point

Possible German equivalent: so nützlich wie ein Kropf

Possible origin: There are several versions of this idiom but “as useful as a chocolate teapot” is the most popular. It is first referenced in the British newspaper, The Guardian, in 1978 describing funny and critical language used by supporters of Barnsley Town football club.

“Tourists that go to home games of Barnsley Town will hear some of the finest football wit and repartee in the land. Players are accused of being "as nimble as a stone trough" or "as much use as a chocolate teapot.”

Other forms of this idiom that mean the same thing include: as useful as … a hole in the head, an inflatable dartboard, an ashtray on a motorbike, a square wheel or a waterproof teabag. Looking online, you can find many more versions this including several with rather “colourful” language. However, if you say, “as useful as a chocolate teapot”, it’s widely used and understood by most!

chocolate / ˈtʃɒk.lət


Welcome again to our weekly series that hopes to go behind the scenes of some rather typical English expressions.