for the life of (one)

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for the life of (one)

Despite one's best efforts; to any degree. I can't for the life of me remember where I left my keys! For the life of her, she just didn't understand people's obsession with selfies.
See also: life, of

for the life of me

at all; even one little bit. (Used with a negative.) For the life of me, I can't figure this out. I can't for the life of me climb up a mountain.
See also: life, of

for the life of one

Although trying hard, as in I can't for the life of me remember his name. This expression is always used hyperbolically, that is, one's life is not at all endangered. [Late 1700s]
See also: life, of, one

for the life of me

however hard I try; even if my life depended on it. informal
1998 Robert Newman Manners I cannot for the life of me think what the name of the lead singer was.
See also: life, of

for the life of (one)

Though trying hard: For the life of me I couldn't remember his name.
See also: life, of

for the life of me

I cannot/could not do something even to save my own life. The expression dates at least from the early eighteenth century and is generally used hyperbolically, that is, one’s life is not actually at stake. An early version appeared in Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield (1766): “Nor could I for my life see how the creation of the world had anything to do with what I was talking about.”
See also: life, of