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Klutz vs. Butterfingers — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Urooj Arif — Updated on April 17, 2024
"Klutz" refers to a generally clumsy person, while "butterfingers" specifically describes someone prone to dropping things.
Klutz vs. Butterfingers — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Klutz and Butterfingers


Key Differences

A klutz is typically someone who is awkward or clumsy in many aspects of physical coordination, often resulting in mishaps or accidents. On the other hand, butterfingers specifically refers to clumsiness with handling items, particularly by dropping them.
While a klutz might trip, bump into objects, or knock things over due to a broader lack of physical dexterity, butterfingers usually implies a momentary lapse in grip or attention, leading to items being dropped.
Being called a klutz suggests a pervasive or habitual clumsiness, affecting various activities from walking to handling delicate tasks. Conversely, butterfingers might only be evident in situations where precise manual handling is required, like catching or holding.
In sports, a klutz may struggle with overall coordination, affecting their performance across different types of physical activities. In contrast, someone dubbed butterfingers in sports might specifically have trouble catching or holding onto the ball.
The term klutz often carries a more enduring connotation about a person’s general demeanor and might be used more sympathetically. Butterfingers, however, often highlights a specific incident or series of incidents and can be used teasingly or critically in the moment.

Comparison Chart


A person who is awkwardly clumsy and inept at physical coordination.
Someone who frequently drops things they are handling.

Scope of Clumsiness

General physical clumsiness.
Specific to dropping items.

Usage in Context

Describes overall clumsiness in various situations.
Typically used in contexts involving handling objects.


Can be broadly applied and more enduring.
Often used momentarily or jokingly.

Common in Sports

Might affect overall performance.
Specifically affects catching or holding objects.

Compare with Definitions


A person prone to accidents and clumsy mistakes.
He’s such a klutz; he tripped over his own feet.


Inability to maintain a grip on objects.
He earned the nickname butterfingers during the basketball game.


Someone with poor physical coordination.
As a klutz, dance classes are a big challenge for her.


Prone to letting things slip from hands.
She’s butterfingers with her phone, dropping it several times a day.


Characteristically clumsy or awkward.
His klutzy attempts at fixing the leak only made things worse.


Frequently loses hold of items.
Being a butterfingers makes him nervous about handling delicate items.


Frequently involved in mishaps.
The klutz of the team always drops the baton in relay races.


Someone who often drops things.
Don’t give him the glass vase; he’s a total butterfingers.


Awkward in movement and action.
His klutzy walk is often the subject of friendly jokes.


Known for dropping things at critical moments.
He’s the butterfingers of the group, especially when under pressure.


A clumsy person.


Someone who tends to drop things; (more generally) someone who is clumsy or uncoordinated; a klutz.
I am such a butterfingers. That’s the third drink I’ve spilled today.


A stupid person; a dolt.


One's fingers which tend to drop things, or are clumsy or uncoordinated.


A clumsy or stupid person.


A tendency to drop things, or to be clumsy or uncoordinated.


(Yiddish) a clumsy dolt


Someone who drops things (especially one who cannot catch a ball); a person who is butter-fingered.


Someone who drops things (especially one who cannot catch a ball)

Common Curiosities

Is being called butterfingers always negative?

It can be teasing or critical, but is often used in a light-hearted manner.

Are klutz and butterfingers used differently in different contexts?

Yes, klutz is used more broadly for overall clumsiness, while butterfingers is specific to handling objects.

What makes someone a klutz?

General lack of coordination and propensity for physical mishaps makes someone a klutz.

How can someone improve if they are a klutz or have butterfingers?

Practicing coordination exercises and paying attention to handling objects carefully can help.

Can a person be both a klutz and have butterfingers?

Yes, someone can be generally clumsy and specifically prone to dropping things.

Can children outgrow being a klutz or having butterfingers?

Yes, with growth and development, children often improve their coordination and handling skills.

How do the terms klutz and butterfingers originate?

"Klutz" comes from the Yiddish "klots," meaning wooden beam, implying clumsiness; "butterfingers" likely derives from the notion of slippery as butter.

Can being a klutz or having butterfingers be an advantage in any scenario?

In some creative or problem-solving scenarios, these traits might encourage unique approaches or caution that can be beneficial.

Is there a professional impact of being known as a klutz or butterfingers?

It can affect roles requiring precision and care, potentially leading to more oversight or training needs.

What is a good way to support someone who is a klutz or has butterfingers?

Encourage them with positive reinforcement and help them practice tasks that challenge their coordination and grip.

Do klutz and butterfingers have psychological implications?

These terms are usually light-hearted and not meant to diagnose any psychological condition.

What sports would be challenging for a klutz or someone with butterfingers?

Sports requiring fine motor skills, like basketball or baseball, might be challenging.

What everyday tasks are difficult for klutzes or those with butterfingers?

Tasks requiring precision, like carrying liquids, using tools, or playing delicate musical instruments, can be difficult.

How should teachers handle a student who is a klutz or has butterfingers?

Teachers should be patient, provide appropriate guidance, and possibly adapt activities to suit their coordination levels.

Is it common for klutziness or butterfingers to run in families?

While not specifically hereditary, physical coordination traits can sometimes be observed in family patterns.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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