Adam's off ox

Adam's off ox

Someone or something that one does not know or cannot readily identify. The phrase is used in an extension of the expression "not know (someone) from Adam" (the Biblical figure), meaning to not know them at all. In a team of oxen, the "off ox" is the one on the "off" side of the driver (i.e. the one positioned the farthest away). Who's that guy? I wouldn't know him from Adam's off ox.
See also: off, ox

Adam's off ox

An unrecognizable person or thing. “I wouldn't know him from Adam's off ox” was the equivalent of the contemporary “I wouldn't know him from a hole in the ground.” Since horses and other beasts of transportation and burden are handled from the left side, the left side is referred to as their “near side” and the right side their “off ” side. Not to be able to distinguish between someone and the farther-away animal of the first man on Earth is indeed not too know very much at all about a person
See also: off, ox