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 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 — 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 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

  • 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

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