“He's not exactly what you'd call a "team player".”

English Lesson: He's not exactly what you'd call a "team player".

You get a call from a company that's considering hiring one of your ex-coworkers. They want to know if you would recommend him for this new job. This ex-coworker was very opinionated and hard to work with, so you say this about him.

He's not exactly what you'd call a "team player".

not exactly (something)

This is an example of understatement. If you're talking about someone and say:

She's not exactly poor.

...it means that she actually has a lot of money. Instead of simply saying "She's rich", you might use this expression in order to sound witty and intelligent.

Here's another example: if your husband is overweight, but made fun of you for being a little heavy, you can say:

You're not exactly in the best shape yourself, you know.

"Not exactly" can be followed either by an adjective, or by a noun:

A: You're dumb.

B: You're not exactly a rocket scientist yourself.

a team player

In business, a "team player" is someone who is helpful and easy to get along with. A person who disagrees with people a lot, or who doesn't listen to other people's ideas, is not a "team player".

When a speaker calls someone a "team player", it's usually meant as a positive description.

(something) is not what you'd call (something)

"Not what you'd call ___" means "not exactly ___" or "not really ___".

This expression is used for understatement. Instead of directly describing something in an extreme way, you introduce your description with "not what you'd call ___". For example, if you're a very bad dancer, you can say:

I'm not what you'd call a great dancer.


(Print this lesson)