To rack one's brains
Rack Rack (r[a^]k), v. t. 1. To extend by the application of force; to stretch or strain; specifically, to stretch on the rack or wheel; to torture by an engine which strains the limbs and pulls the joints. [1913 Webster]

He was racked and miserably tormented. --Foxe. [1913 Webster]

2. To torment; to torture; to affect with extreme pain or anguish. [1913 Webster]

Vaunting aloud but racked with deep despair. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

3. To stretch or strain, in a figurative sense; hence, to harass, or oppress by extortion. [1913 Webster]

The landlords there shamefully rack their tenants. --Spenser. [1913 Webster]

They [landlords] rack their rents an ace too high. --Gascoigne. [1913 Webster]

Grant that I may never rack a Scripture simile beyond the true intent thereof. --Fuller. [1913 Webster]

Try what my credit can in Venice do; That shall be racked even to the uttermost. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

4. (Mining) To wash on a rack, as metals or ore. [1913 Webster]

5. (Naut.) To bind together, as two ropes, with cross turns of yarn, marline, etc. [1913 Webster]

{To rack one's brains} or {To rack one's brains out} or {To rack one's wits}, to exert one's thinking processes to the utmost for the purpose of accomplishing something; as, I racked my brains out trying to find a way to solve the problem. [1913 Webster +PJC]

Syn: To torture; torment; rend; tear. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • To rack one's brains out — Rack Rack (r[a^]k), v. t. 1. To extend by the application of force; to stretch or strain; specifically, to stretch on the rack or wheel; to torture by an engine which strains the limbs and pulls the joints. [1913 Webster] He was racked and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To rack one's wits — Rack Rack (r[a^]k), v. t. 1. To extend by the application of force; to stretch or strain; specifically, to stretch on the rack or wheel; to torture by an engine which strains the limbs and pulls the joints. [1913 Webster] He was racked and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • rack one's brains — THINK HARD, concentrate, cudgel one s brains; informal scratch one s head. → rack * * * rack one s brains To use one s memory or reasoning powers to the utmost • • • Main Entry: ↑rack * * * rack (or wrack) one s brains (or brain) make a great… …   Useful english dictionary

  • rack one's brains —    If you rack your brains, you try very hard to think of something or to remember something.     Christmas is always a hassle for me. I have to rack my brains every year to find ideas for presents …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • rack one's brains — I ve racked my brain, but I still can t think of his name Syn: think hard, concentrate, try to remember; informal scratch one s head …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • rack one's brains — try hard to think or remember something I have been racking my brains all day trying to remember his name …   Idioms and examples

  • rack one's brains — think really hard, try very hard to remember something …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Rack — (r[a^]k), v. t. 1. To extend by the application of force; to stretch or strain; specifically, to stretch on the rack or wheel; to torture by an engine which strains the limbs and pulls the joints. [1913 Webster] He was racked and miserably… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • rack — in the phrase rack and ruin means ‘destruction’ and is normally spelt in this way in BrE, although it is originally a variant of the older form wrack (which is still sometimes used). Rack is one of nine nouns and seven verbs with this spelling,… …   Modern English usage

  • rack — rack1 rackingly, adv. /rak/, n. 1. a framework of bars, wires, or pegs on which articles are arranged or deposited: a clothes rack; a luggage rack. 2. a fixture containing several tiered shelves, often affixed to a wall: a book rack; a spice rack …   Universalium

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