beat one's brains out

Slang Dictionary

brain definition

  1. n.
    a good student; a very intelligent person. (See also brains.) : I'm no brain, but I get good grades.
  2. tv.
    to hit someone (in the head). : I ought to brain you for that!
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

beat one's brains out

Make a great mental effort to understand, solve, or remember something, as in Joe's beating his brains out to finish this puzzle. Christopher Marlowe used this hyperbolic idiom in The Massacre of Paris (1593): "Guise beats his brains to catch us in his trap." Also see rack one's brains.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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