not playing with a full deck

not playing with a full deck

Meaning | Synonyms

  • not mentally sound
  • stupid, dimwitted
  • crazy or mentally deranged
  • not very intelligent or bright
  • mentally deficient

Example Sentences

  1. With the number of silly remarks he comes up with, I wonder if he’s not playing with a full deck.
  2. He may be an influential person, but some of the things he does gives the impression that he is not playing with a full deck.
  3. He keeps talking to himself. I think he’s not playing with a full deck.
  4. That scientist is considered to be a genius in his field, but with some of the antics he’s up to at the university, it looks like he’s not playing with a full deck.
  5. The new teacher doesn’t seem to know what he’s teaching. He’s not playing with a full deck.
  6. He is a nice person, but with some of the foolish things he does, I think he’s not playing with a full deck.


The phrase is one of the many derogatory ones that originated in America. The implication of the insult is that the person has some part of the brain missing. Deck is a reference to a deck of cards.

Our many users suggested that the phrase was coined in 1965 by George Denis Patrick Carlin – an American stand-up comedian.

George Carlin – Stand Up Routine – The Merv Griffin show, 1965:

“Thank you very much golly! I think we all realize he’s not playing with a full deck folks.”

Then the audience burst into laughter. And the phrase caused the biggest laugh in the show.


N 4 Thoughts

4 Thoughts

1500s tax on deck of cards, so people bought decks of 51 cards to avoid the tax.

- Sharon February 24, 2022

I actually came to see if George Carlin coined this. Because I’m watching his 1965 standup and the crowd laughed way too long when he said it.

- Kinney June 7, 2020

I also believe George Carlin wrote this phrase. When he said the line in 1965, he got a big laugh.

- Scott June 5, 2020

George Carlin was using that phrase back in the 1960’s with the exact same meaning.

- Robert Pruitt May 25, 2020

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