A mouth can water, but what does a brain do? I'm looking for a term that implies intellectual thirst, as when one has worked all day at a mindless task and only wants to read a novel, or essay, or weighty film.

On further reflection, I realized that what I'm actually trying to find a term for is the sensation one gets when hearing that a favorite author is about to publish a new book, or when one sees a captivating title in a list of movies. The mouth "waters" when we're hungry and smell good food. But what does the mind do when we walk into a bookstore or art gallery?

2 Answers 2


Generally the mind hungers rather than thirsts. Feed your brain, don't water it!

For a general phrase, I would use "intellectually starved for a good book" or something similar. This is usage number three from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/starved

  • Thanks for the thought! I agree with your proposition. Thinking about it more, however, I realized that I'm actually after something a little different (I've edited the post accordingly). My fault, of course, not yours.
    – bdorn
    Apr 9, 2015 at 20:45

Well, first of all something very close to the OP :-)

Reading Christopher Smart in the Twenty-first Century: "By ... - Page xii Min Wild, ‎Noel Chevalier - 2013 -

acknowledgments are to Rosa Duvet, of course, as well as to, once again, Professor Dafydd Moore, and, as always, for keeping the brain watered, to Drs. Michael Nath, Paul Hendon, and Laura Salisbury.


Dead Woman Pickney: A Memoir of Childhood in Jamaica

Yvonne Shorter Brown - 2010

My brain was ravenous for knowledge, and my soulwas hungry for adventure—to study, to travel, to work abroad, and totravel around the world.


Clonenstein: The Sixth Great-Grandson of Frankenstein - Page 5 Gary B. Cooke - 2010

My brain was hungry for knowledge. I was like a sponge; I needed to know more and more.

  • Thanks. These make a good case. I changed my post, however, realizing in hindsight that I'm looking more for a verb than an adjective. These quotes may still apply; the brain may "hunger" when hearing about a new book. But I wonder if there's something closer to "intellectual salivating" (an admittedly awkward phrase).
    – bdorn
    Apr 9, 2015 at 20:49

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