not have a clue

not have a clue

Meaning

  • to not know something.
  • have no idea or inkling about something.
  • to be willfully ignorant.
  • be defiant or stubborn regarding a certain matter.

Examples in Sentences

  1. You think you’re smart, but you do not have a clue about how things work.
  2. He did not have a clue where he was going.
  3. Many children do not have a clue how technology works.
  4. People starting their first job do not have a clue how hard it will be.
  5. I don’t have a clue. Why did she suddenly leave the job?

Origin

Oddly enough, this phrase confuses some individuals since it doesn’t appear to be idiomatic in nature. The origin of this idiom, however, can be traced back to the different meanings that the word clue, which was also spelled clew, once had. A clew is a ball that is formed from coiled worms, apparently, or string, and dates back to 897 AD, and has been used in literature dating back to Greek myths such as Theseus and the Minotaur. According to this legend, the only way Theseus was able to escape the maze that led him to the Minotaur was the clew, or ball of string that afforded him safe and reliable passage out of the maze. With that definition and meaning in mind, to not have a clue is to remain ignorant and know very little about how to proceed with one situation or another.

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