There are single (albeit compound) words in some languages (including English) which describe sensations that would otherwise be cumbersome to explain more than once (e.g. petrichor, schadenfreude, deja vu).

I recently came across the expression "to ring hollow". At first, I thought that was the suitable expression (crudely speaking, not understanding could imply a hyperbolic lack of a brain which would thus a hollow cranium make - hence "ring hollow"). Digging further, I found that it's more akin to a false promise <--> lack of credibility.

So is there a word or an expression in English that conveys:

The feeling when someone doesn't understand your meaning no matter how many different ways you explain it"? Or the feeling when, if what you say does register with the other person, it doesn't register at the level it should?

  • 1
    What does TFA stand for? It is really bad practice to use non-standard abbreviations in titles and lazy not to define them in the text of a non-specialized site like this. For example, I am a highly educated native English speaker and I have no idea what you are writing about.
    – David
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 19:38
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    @deadrat — It may be annoying to you but what I can do is explain that SE-EL&U is not designed to be teenage American ghetto. The first rule of communication in public speaking is never to use acronyms. If you do you confuse or insult your listener. If you or the poster don't understand that I'm doing you and SE a favour by explaining it.
    – David
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 20:31
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    Stymied, a form of being frustrated or blocked by one's efforts. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 21:01
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    @David Example sentence: "TFW you think everyone will know the abbreviations from your high school, but really you and only two friends do, and one of them is faking it."
    – jimm101
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 21:40
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    @David Just to be clear, I'm as annoyed by text-speak as you, but its use extends beyond teenagers and ghettos (And where did that last come from?). ELU is not public speaking, and if there are rules for public speaking, I'm pretty sure the injunction to abjure acronyms isn't one of them. It's the custom of one generation to contemn the music and the literacy of the next generation. I'm sure that shortly after Sumerian accountants invented writing over 5 millennia ago, they took stylus to wet clay to complain about the state to which the youngsters had brought cuneiform. It still pointless.
    – deadrat
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 23:57

3 Answers 3


You might feel like you are talking to a (brick) wall:

(idiomatic) Of an attempt at communication: unsuccessful because of the ignorance or stubbornness of the other party.
from wiktionary.com

used for saying that someone does not listen or react to you when you talk
from macmillandictionary.com

Or you might feel that what you are saying is going in one ear and out the other:

Without any influence or effect; unheeded
from American Heritage Dictionary, via freedictionary.com

to be heard but immediately forgotten
from cambridge.dictionary.org

  • Your font size for your references is hard to read because it is so tiny. :)
    – ab2
    Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 20:09
  • @ab2 get a bigger monitor? ;-)
    – Hellion
    Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 20:11

A famous proverb says "There is none so deaf as he who will not hear". It's said about someone who chooses to ignore advice or will not believe what they are told.

There are equivalents in many languages, e.g. "il n’est pire sourd que celui qui ne veut pas entendre" in French.


You feel like you are beating your head against the wall, or banging your head against a brick wall. The Free Dictionary defines this expression:

Fig. to waste one's time trying hard to accomplish something that is completely hopeless. You're wasting your time trying to figure this puzzle out. You're just beating your head against the wall. You're banging your head against a brick wall trying to get that dog to behave properly.

In the OP's question:

I've tried again and again and again to explain X to him, but nothing gets through; I feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall.

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