beat one's brains (out), to(redirected from to beat one's brains)
beat one's brains (out), to
A more colloquial version of cudgel one’s brains or rack one’s brain, meaning, like them, to strain to remember something or solve a difficult problem. It dates from the sixteenth century, when Christopher Marlowe wrote, “Guise beats his brains to catch us in his trap” (The Massacre of Paris, 1593, 1.1).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer