rack one's brain

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Combination of rack (medieval torture method), and brain, thus meaning “to cause the mind extreme discomfort”.

Variants include rack one's wit (1583) and rack one's memory,[1] as well as cudgel one's brain / cudgel one's brains.

Pronunciation[edit]

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Verb[edit]

rack one's brain

  1. (idiomatic) To struggle to think of or remember something.
    I have been racking my brain all day trying to think of a birthday present for her.

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Quinion (2011-11-19), “Wrack or rack?”, in World Wide Words[1]