"He couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a banjo” is said about someone who’s drunk, or an athlete who isn’t having a good day. It’s not certain if this phrase originated in Texas. The phrase dates to at least the 1920s, but the word “butt” is a recent addition.
Google Groups: alt.sport.paintball
From: Kenneth R. Gilder
Date: Sun, Jun 2 1996 12:00 am
Then again, it’s not the gun - it’s the player behind the gun, and there are people who play this game that could have the finest barrel made, and still couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a banjo.
22 July 1929, Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, pg. 7:
Then came another letter in argument in which the wise crack was pulled that Wanninger wasn’t near the shortstop that Ford is and that he couldn’t hit a bull with a bass fiddle.
11 January 1932, Los Angeles Times, pg. 9:
When S.C. went into a shell, leading 3 to 0, the boys opined that the Trojans “couldn’t hit a bull in the nose (or some such word) with a banjo.” As the game progressed and California’s chances of victory dwindled to practically nothing, the inebriated chaps began to suspect that their team wasn’t doing so well. “Why, Nibs’s boys can’t hit a bull in the nose with a banjo,” said one of the fellows sadly. Maybe Nibs had his boys out yesterday practicing swatting bulls with banjos.
27 July 1937, Los Angeles Times, pg. A9:
To make this situation even worse, none of the Seraphs can hit a bull in the ear with a paddle—especially when there are runners in scoring position.
17 August 1941, Washington Post, pg. SP3:
Sammy Baugh, who can hit a bull in the ankle with a forward pass, and Ki Aldrich, obtained by the Redskins from the Chicago Cardinals, joined their teammates here.
24 October 1941, Los Angeles Times, pg. 11:
“The only thing that saved our lives,” said Stowe, whose ship was a target for stukas, “was the fact the Nazis didn’t seem to be able to hit a bull astern with a bass fiddle.”
13 April 1971, Washington Post, “Proxmire Seeks Cut in Arms Spending” by George C. Wilson, pg. A16:
Navy Aircraft Carriers—In war, he said, they would be as easy to hit as a “bull in the butt with a bass fiddle.”
5 December 1971, Washington Post, “The U.S. Navy Fighter Jet That Shot Itself Down, and Other Pentagon Lemons” by Sen. William Proxmire, pg. 242:
As one senator said: “It is as easy to knock them out as it is to hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle.”
27 December 1975, Lincoln (Neb.) Star, pg. 11:
Dan Kush, a 5-9, 175-pound junior, kicked field goals of 27, 33 and 29 yards just 24 hours after his father claims “he couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a handful of popcorn.
27 September 1998, North Hills News Record (Warrendale, PA), pg. B1:
Kordell Stewart. This guy couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a banjo. He’s constantly throwing into coverage. The Stillers aren’t gonna win with this guy.
Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader
Plunges Into Texas
by The Bathroom Readers’ Hysterical Society
San Diego, CA: Portable Press
Pg. 251 (The Texas Phrase Book):
About someone who’s staggering drunk:
“He couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a banjo.”
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, October 13, 2006 • Permalink