Can someone help me to identify some English synonyms/idioms meaning to "wonder so hard"? The word or phrase I'm looking for could be used in a situation where somebody tries to solve a very confusing riddle or is unable to manage what is going on.

I thought one example might be "breaking [somebody's] head open" (like in other languages: "den Kopf zerbrechen" or "rompersi la testa"), but I realized that the English meaning is literal in that case.

4 Answers 4


Here are some ideas for you.

I had to really scratch my head about that one.

I was completely lost in that lecture. For the life of me, I could not figure out what the heck the professor was talking about.

I had to wrack my brain to solve that riddle.


A word like ponder or ruminate would be synonyms, but neither has the intensity I think you're looking for. There's an idiom, "crack one's brains," or "rack one's brains," that might work. I personally use a phrase that involves smoke coming out of my ears.

P.S. "Wrack one's brains" is often used; according to Grammarist rack is correct.

  • +1 for the (w)rack one's brains! According to ODO both are correct when used figuratively.
    – Lucky
    Jul 25, 2015 at 0:21

I've ruminated over the problem for months.

The problem is driving me crazy.

The problem is puzzling me.

I'm cogitating about the problem.

I'm still mulling over it.



Dictionary.com: overwhelming; astounding: Spending a week in the jungle was a mind-blowing experience.

Cambridge: surprising, shocking, and often difficult to understand or imagine: The movie’s special effects are mind-blowing.

Oxford: Overwhelmingly impressive: For a kid, Chicago was really mind-blowing.


Dictionary.com: intellectually overwhelming: a mind-boggling puzzle

Macmillan: very large, unusual, or complicated and not easy to imagine: athletes who earn a mind-boggling amount of money

Cambridge: extremely surprising and difficult to understand or imagine: She was paid the mind-boggling sum of ten million dollars for that film.

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