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I am trying to find idioms that could express "looking for something" and "trying to find something in a room full of mess". One that I could find was "hunt high and low," but for some reason I don't really feel satisfied using it. Can someone please suggest some other phrase?

I would like to use in a context like this:

"I tried to look for the pen in my dorm room (which was messy) but couldn't find it".

For e.g. I would want to tell someone that every time I want something, I have to search the place thoroughly to locate it.

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"Like looking for a needle in a haystack", "I found it in the last place I looked". – Mitch Jun 18 '13 at 17:21
"Searching in every nook and cranny" means to look in every possible place for something. It doesn't require the place where you are searching to be full of mess. – Kaiser Octavius Jun 18 '13 at 17:24
There are several questions that already cover this idiom. Have you searched the site? – Kristina Lopez Jun 18 '13 at 17:48
I didn't know what to search for... and searching for something using the keyword "search" did not help much... – Codename Jun 18 '13 at 17:51
@Dez so you have to turn the room upside down? – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jun 18 '13 at 21:16

6 Answers 6

I think an expression that explains why you can't find an object might be more useful. You said you tried looking for a pen in your room, which was messy, and failed.

So you could say something similar to:

"I tried looking everywhere, but the room looked like a bomb had hit it!"

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That's good but I was looking for something that would focus more on the act of searching rather than the mess in the room. – Codename Jun 19 '13 at 11:36
@Dez Then Mitch's suggestion, like looking for a needle in a haystack, is the one I would opt for. If he had written it as an answer. I would not have proposed this alternative. – Mari-Lou A Jun 19 '13 at 11:42

These are not idioms, but they may be useful hyperboles:

You could say "Every time I need something from there, I need to call search-and-rescue to find it."

Or "Only a search dog can find what I need in there."

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Yes, this seems to be a viable option. – Codename Jun 19 '13 at 11:37
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Ok, with some more reading, I now realise that the word I was looking for was "rummage". I rummaged through my room to find it.

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You might say,

I tried to look for the pen in my dorm room. I turned the room upside down, but never found the pen.

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I searched high and low; I left no stone unturned; I had to go over the place with a fine-tooth comb.

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Run it to ground is one of the best ones I can come up with. it stands for looking for someone or something until its is found and resolved to your satisfaction

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