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I found this expression:

  • to put on the/one's thinking cap

What does it mean and how does one use it?

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  • 2
    Reminds me of “wearing the < role > hat”.
    – RegDwigнt
    Feb 3, 2011 at 18:39
  • More commonly it's my thinking cap or your thinking cap. Apparently we all have one each, there's not just the one cap we all share. ;)
    – ijw
    Feb 3, 2011 at 22:57

4 Answers 4

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It means to give deep consideration to a problem, or to brainstorm, or to ponder:

Gentlemen, this is a serious issue. We need to put on our thinking caps and come up with a good solution.

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The thinking cap is the cap that Gyro Gearloose wears when he needs to find a solution for a problem. To put the thinking cap means then to find the solution, think about, reflect on.

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  • I've given it an up vote, but I have a question about the grammar. Shouldn't you have written "[...] IS the cap that [...]" or "[...] was the cap that Gyro WORE when he NEEDED"? I'm asking because I can still improve on how I use the tenses so if I am wrong, I could benefit from a clarification. Feb 3, 2011 at 19:54
  • The tense used for both the verbs should be the same. I started the sentence with the intention to use the past tense, but then I changed my mind and decided that using the present tense was more correct.
    – apaderno
    Feb 3, 2011 at 20:06
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If you're going to use it in conversation the usual ways would be:

[That's a difficult problem.] I'll go put on my thinking cap.

... I'll go away and think about it.

[That's a difficult problem.] Why don't you put on your thinking cap and we'll talk later?

... Why don't you go away and think about it and we'll talk later?

The general idea it expresses is that you're taking time just to sit and think hard about something.

You can also say things like

I've got my thinking cap on.

I'll put my thinking cap on.

and so on.

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It is a sligthly humorous phrase and, as such, would not be used in a strictly formal setting (e.g. a meeting with the Queen).

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