In Swedish, we have the expression for intentional misinterpretation of the intended content. An example is we have between two and three million dollars and someone saying that two dollars isn't much. The expression is he reads the text like Satan reads the Bible.

What's an English correspondent to that?

  • TV Tropes has a "Literal-Minded" page, which features this example from Guardians of the Galaxy - Rocket: "Drax's people are completely literal. Metaphors are gonna go over his head", Drax: "Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it." Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 16:47

1 Answer 1



informal British

Deliberately uncooperative.


Given your geography, I would use this idiomatic expression.

It usually refers to people who are...

deliberately obtuse

Annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand.

Ex. 'He wondered if the doctor was being deliberately obtuse


  • I wonder if it implies being (or deliberately pretending to be) too dumb-witted and unintelligent to understand. The reason for asking is that the Swedish expression kind of bears the connotation of misinterpretation, rather than misunderstanding. The sense conveyed is less of du'h... I don't get it but rather oh, I see, I see, your points is that thing..Perhaps that distinction isn't achievable in English? Also, it'd be even more neat to see a suggestion that's an expression, rather than a descriptive term, like a proverb or such. Got anything like that? Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 21:43

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