In Arabic (Specifically, north-western Levantine), there's a saying that goes like

He drilled my head about/with that lunch meeting (بخشلي راسي باجتماع الغدا)

Which means something along the lines of

He kept insisting on/talking about/remind me of/bringing up that lunch meeting

It can be used in situations where your girlfriend wants you to take her out somewhere and she keeps reminding you about it everyday, when your kid keeps asking for a new bike everyday, or when your boss keeps bringing up that report you have due next Monday.

The saying doesn't carry the connotation of negligence reluctance on behalf of the person on the receiving end. The person might or might not be working on fulfilling his promise or adhering to the other party's wishes.

Many times I find myself in such situations and I really need something to use. I often use the direct translation as written in the first example.

Is there an equivalent for that in English?

The closest thing I was able to think of was "nagging", but it doesn't convey how strongly I feel about the situation.

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    Nagging was the first thing to come to my mind; could you please clarify what's unsatisfactory about it? – Bradd Szonye Mar 11 '14 at 10:59
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    "Drill into someone's head" is an English expression that Arabic had borrowed/imported. It is already an expression used in English ever since there had been drills. – Blessed Geek Mar 11 '14 at 13:45
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    "Drill into someone's head" has a slightly different meaning in English - it's more about making someone learn or remember (e.g. old-fashioned school teaching), and any implied frustration is typically from the person with the teaching role towards the person who won't learn without endless repetition. This is asking for a stronger way of getting across the frustration of being excessively nagged, esp to do (not learn) something. edit - Just noticed kaviseigel already posted about this below – user56reinstatemonica8 Mar 11 '14 at 13:53
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    "Nagging" is a fairly strong and pretty derogatory term in English. It's not the kind of thing that you would want your boss or your spouse to hear you say about them. – RBarryYoung Mar 11 '14 at 14:39
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    Having read only the title before reading the question, my first thought was along the lines of "trepanation"/"trephination". Never mind, nothing to see here, carry on! – shoover Mar 12 '14 at 21:45

33 Answers 33


A less formal: "doing my swede in"

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    -1 : Colloquial with no source whatsoever. Never heard it used in NE USA or seen it any American source (actually I don't think I've ever seen or heard it at all, and I have traveled a good deal.) – Vector Mar 12 '14 at 23:07
  • I've heard this in Liverpool, UK. Swede = head, i.e. "doing my head in". – Danny Beckett Mar 14 '14 at 3:37

You could say that he picked your brain

From Wiktionary:

(idiomatic) To seek information from someone knowledgeable; to ask questions of someone.

After I spent a couple of hours picking his brain, his scheme started to make sense.

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    That phrase is more for asking for information about someone else's expertise (not nagging), and it's usually positive not negative. "Can I pick your brain about X?" is both a question and a small compliment - "I respect your expertise on X, will you share some with me?". "Bob was picking my brain about X" wouldn't imply that Bob was annoying me, it'd imply that Bob was asking questions about something that I think I'm an expert on (and, it'd also imply that I have a high opinion of my expertise on X... so people usually talk about picking other people's brains). – user56reinstatemonica8 Mar 11 '14 at 13:42

You could also say "he picked his brain"

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    Usually this is used when the asker is asking for extremely detailed information; it doesn't necessarily imply repetition or a negative experience. – Jason C Mar 11 '14 at 23:10
  • This is incorrect, as explained. brain picking means extracting useful information from some sort of subject matter expert. – Vector Mar 12 '14 at 22:59

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