can't make head or tail of

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can't make heads or tails (out) of (someone or something)

Cannot understand someone or something at all; cannot make any sense of someone or something. I've been working with the new software for hours, but I still can't make heads or tails out of it. I can't make heads or tails of that new guy in accounting. Sometimes, he's really friendly, and then other times he acts like he's never met me before.
See also: head, make, of, tail

can't make head or tail of

Also can't make heads or tails of. Fail to understand, be quite confused about, as in I can't make head or tail of these directions. A version of this term dates back to Roman times, when Cicero wrote Ne caput nec pedes ("neither head nor feet") to describe confusion. In the current idiom the precise allusion is unclear: head and tail may mean top and bottom, beginning and end, or the two sides of a coin. [Second half of 1600s]
See also: head, make, of, tail

can’t make head or/nor ˈtail of something

(informal) not be able to understand something at all: I can’t make head or tail of this picture — is it upside down?
See also: head, make, nor, of, something, tail
References in periodicals archive ?
The mathematical center of the fish was used because both the head and tail make large lateral sweeping motions in both aquatic and terrestrial environments, and it was believed that the mathematical center would provide a better indication of the path of movement for fish than would tracking the head or tail alone.
He says the types of magnets available to C&D recyclers range from drum magnets, which are capable of lifting large, heavy pieces of ferrous metal from a moving stream of material, to magnetic head or tail pulleys, which can draw material from within a pile and retain it while other materials fall away, to overband or crossbelt magnets, which are suspended above the conveying line.
The challenge: Guess whether the concealed coin is a head or tail.