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rack (one's) brain(s)
To struggle to recall or think of something. I've been racking my brain, but I still can't remember what Lydia's husband's name is. He racked his brains all weekend trying to think of a solution to the problem.
See also: rack
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
rack one's brain(s)
Fig. to try very hard to think of something. I racked my brains all afternoon, but couldn't remember where I put the book. Don't waste any more time racking your brain. Go borrow the book from the library.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
rack (one's) brainInformal
To think long and hard: I racked my brain for hours trying to recall her name.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
rack one's brain, to
To strain to remember something or discover a solution. The rack here is the medieval instrument of torture on which the victim’s body was stretched until it broke. The idea is old; “we break our brains for naught” comes from 1530. The word “rack” came into use about 150 years later.
See also: rack
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer