DYK: Don’t let anyone rack your brain like this!

To ‘rack one’s brains’ is to strain mentally to recall or to understand something. The term is used whenever something or someone was under particular stress.rack


The rack was a medieval torture device. The crude but, one presumes, effective racks often tore the victim’s limbs from their bodies. It isn’t surprising that ‘rack’ was adopted as a verb meaning to cause pain and anguish.

The first recorded use of this being specifically applied to brains is in William Beveridge’s Sermons, circa 1680:

“They rack their brains… they hazard their lives for it.”
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