I'm looking for another idiom similar to:

not have the faintest idea

It should be able to start a sentence. For some reason I want to use "by the stars" but I don't think this means anything, but if it did, the sentence would look something like this:

By the stars I have no clue how he came to that conclusion.

I guess the idom would more so mean "in utter confusion" like:

In utter confusion I have no clue how he came to that conclusion.

  • 2
    In your second two examples it's the phrase 'I have no clue' that conveys 'I haven't the faintest idea'. The phrases 'by the stars' and 'in utter confusion' don't do this. Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 10:08
  • Yes I know, which is why I state, "i guess the idiom would more so mean" Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 10:10
  • 1
    It seems like "clueless" should be mentioned, just for completeness.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 20:58
  • Yes, clueless, and if you mention having no clue, or being clueless, adding another idiom is overkill. It's almost like mixing metaphors.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 12:30

5 Answers 5


"By the stars" would not necessarily suggest that the speaker has no idea. It sounds more similar to "By Jov" or "Oh my God" which can suggest a pretty wide array of reactions, from surprise and bewilderment to outrage. Also, using it the way you want to can even come across as a type of truism, since the general meaning of the sentence it will be used in is that the speaker has no clue, so there is no need to use it both as an opening line and then reiterate it several words later.

"By the stars" is a nice choice of idiom to express the speaker's surprise, so you can keep using it, as long as you agree to let go of the intended meaning of "I don't have the faintest idea". It just makes the sentence it's used in sound needlessly convoluted and there's a very good chance that your readers will not understand it the same way you intended it.

  • 1
    "By the stars" is an archaism. No native speaker I know would use that expression except facetiously, maybe when talking like a pirate.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 12:29


I haven't the foggiest as to how he came to this conclusion.

With "as to" you can piece other idioms together, too. There's nothing wrong with I've absolutely no clue as to how he came to this conclusion, either.

  • That's pretty close Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 9:55


You could say: "I haven't the slightest inkling as to how he came to that conclusion."


A bag of rocks having more knowledge than I, ...

[Some inanimate or generally-recognized-as-unthinking object] having more knowledge than I, ...

  • Is this an established expression or are you paraphrasing Julius Caesar? Knew you not Pompey?
    – livresque
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 7:01
  • 1
    I've never heard it in reference to Julius Caesar, I'm just from the southern part of the USA and hear lots of, usually funny, redneck expressions like "a city boy would tell you how to plant crops [and] then [proceed to] eat a stone ear of fuel corn", or "that kid never had his lightbulb screwed right" (instead of "having a few screws loose"), or "he's about a gallon short of a quart of water", or "you can put kittens in the oven but that don't [sic] make them biscuits", or "that person's mouth was running a sprint with a hollow head", etc
    – Stev
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 7:14
  • These are great expressions! Your answer reminded me of Shakespeare, lines from the play Julius Caesar, but I'm just a mule in a horse's harness.
    – livresque
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 7:31
  • 1
    (You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things! O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, Knew you not Pompey?) for ref. Common bonds. Along the lines of "I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night."
    – livresque
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 7:41

It should be able to start a sentence.

(It) beats me

Used to say that you do not know something, or cannot understand or explain it
Beats me why he wants such a big car.

It beats me

Idiom slang (also what beats me)

Said when you do not understand a situation or someone's behavior:

It beats me how she got the job.
What beats me is why she stays with him.

Other suggestions:

Who knows (why/how...)
Heaven/God knows (why/how...)

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