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I have seen these phrases using interchangeably, but I couldn't pinpoint exactly what do they mean.

what is the difference between the 2 and where/how to use them?

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  • I rather like mind-boogling. Stick with it. Jun 30, 2015 at 14:38
  • 2
    Personally, I would use mind blowing in terms of something so shocking it would hypothetically cause your mind to explode under the stress of this revelation. Whereas mind boggling is more a term for a puzzle or conundrum, these too could be mind-blowing when the answer is revealed, but mind boggling is the term for the inability to conceive the idea of what something is trying to portray. For example, paradoxes are mind boggling, whereas the solution for a paradox would be mind blowing.
    – nickson104
    Jun 30, 2015 at 14:41
  • @nickson104 that's a really depictive explanation! Care to turn it into an answer?
    – Lucky
    Jun 30, 2015 at 17:51
  • Converted to answer, unfortunately I have little to no time to expand on it
    – nickson104
    Jul 2, 2015 at 7:10

3 Answers 3

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In my experience 'mind-blowing' is an Americanism, but is creeping overseas. 'Mind-boggling' is used more by the British, but they usually say 'boggles the mind!' The two phrases have almost the same meaning. 'Mind-blowing' refers to a highly stimulating event or experience, such that it overwhelms the senses. 'Mind-boggling' or '(it) boggles the mind' is usually used to refer to an overly complicated, confusing, self-contradictory policy or unfathomable attitude, situation or position (usually taken by an administrative organ of government). Bureaucracy is usually loaded with 'mind-boggling' regulations.

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I would agree with both of the other answers.

The evolution of the two phrases is rather interesting. The phrase "the mind boggles" goes back to about 1915, with "mind-boggling" as an occasional adjectival form. Note that "mind-blowing" does not appear to have been used at all. The use of "mind-boggling" from 1901 to 1907 is one which I have not been able to track down.

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Then we reach the sixties, and the phrase "mind-blowing". Well, first there was "blew my/his/her mind". (Note that the 1940s/1950s usage is actually an artifact of how n-gram works, and is not accurate.)

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However, "mind-boggling" is the big winner, with "mind-blowing" seeming to ride along as an alternative.

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Personally, I would use mind blowing in terms of something so shocking it would hypothetically cause your mind to explode under the stress of this revelation. Whereas mind boggling is more a term for a puzzle or conundrum, these too could be mind-blowing when the answer is revealed, but mind boggling is the term for the inability to conceive the idea of what something is trying to portray.

For example, paradoxes are mind boggling, whereas the solution for a paradox would be mind blowing.

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