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In Hindi, there is an idiom "दिमाग का दही हो गया" (dimaag ka dahi ho gaya) which literally translates to "brain turned into yogurt". This is used when you're mentally exhausted and unable to think with your usual speed/clarity. Example situations:

  • A student studying for a few hours.
  • A person bored by listening to speeches all day, even though they weren't paying much attention.

Is there an English equivalent of this idiom?

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    The literal translation works quite well in English; its meaning is quite obvious and its phrasing is sufficiently interesting. – John Dallman Oct 28 '17 at 17:02
  • poo-brain i.imgur.com/SSy9sOh.gif – spacetyper Oct 30 '17 at 16:25
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    @JohnDallman - not wishing to poo-poo your comment, but, who cares? Of course, obviously, a sentence as clear as "My brain turned to yoghourt" "makes sense". The OP is asking "What is the phrase in English?" Of course, obviously, it is ".. turned to mush". If you spoke the phrase ".. brain turned to yoghourt" to 1000 native English speakers, 1000 of them would say "oh, you mean 'turned to mush'." It sounds exactly like a "humorous, ESL mistake". (Yes, of course, obviously, the sentence can be "understood" - but it's a "typo," so to speak.) – Fattie Oct 30 '17 at 17:44
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    I doubt that if you said "turned to yogurt" to 1000 English speakers, you would find that more than a couple said anything at all. It doesn't sound to me like a foreign idiom -- it sounds like a slight spin on a common metaphor, which native speakers do all the time. "Turned to green Jell-O", "to tapioca", and "to pudding" are all versions of this phrase that I have heard or read. – trentcl Oct 31 '17 at 2:52
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I would go with "My brain is fried." I hear this frequently in everyday life (working as a scientist in southern California). I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone say "brain turned to mush," but perhaps that's a regional difference. "I'm frazzled" is probably even more common and has roughly the same meaning, but is less parallel to your yogurt-brain saying!

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    It's interesting that you mention this; it is also quite common in Hindi as भेजा फ्राई (bheja fry, lit. brain fry), although I admit I didn't know that it was used by native English speakers too. There's even a Hindi comedy film with this name, which makes the viewer have the same experience. – theindigamer Oct 28 '17 at 21:19
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    "Bheja Fry" is not originally allegorical, it comes from the Indian dish of the same name, which contains fried lamb brains. – Pranab Oct 29 '17 at 15:50
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    Your phrase:"My brain is fried" fits the given examples better than "Brain turned to mush." To me, "...mush" has the connotation of long term brain impairment, a sort of dullness due to lack of use. Example, "After years of only watching reality TV, Horratio's brain turned to mush." – joelliusp Oct 30 '17 at 18:16
  • @joelliusp, you are right (in the descriptivist sense). While the dictionary example of "brain turned to mush" (given in my answer) gives the impression of short term exhaustion, googling the term indicates usage as long term brain impairment. So I have updated the approved answer. – theindigamer Oct 31 '17 at 13:34
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The idiom "brain turned into/to mush" seems to fit the bill.

From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of one's brain turns into/to mush

—used to say that one is unable to think clearly or well

I was so tired my brain turned into/to mush.

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    Moreover mush has the approximate consistency of dahi @theindigamer. I upvote. What is lovely is that you have asked and answered your own question to educate us about 2 strikingly parallel idioms in 2 different languages! This is explicitly encouraged by Stack Exchange [see stackoverflow.blog/2011/07/01/… ] but very rarely seen here. – English Student Oct 28 '17 at 14:14
  • And note the aptness of the parallel. "Mush" can, on the one hand, refer to any material of the proper consistency (a thick slurry), but is also used to be applied to some foods, such as corn, when properly prepared. – WhatRoughBeast Oct 28 '17 at 18:49
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    Given the similarity of these phrases and the long history of English in India, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the "mush" variant was imported into English from the Hindi original. I've got nothing to back that up one way or the other, but it seems like a very real possibility. – Spudley Oct 28 '17 at 19:23
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    @ShreevatsaR, there is a checkbox "Answer your own question – share your knowledge, Q&A-style" at the bottom on the Ask a Question page. – theindigamer Oct 29 '17 at 16:12
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    This is the one that I was thinking of, as well. – Stilez Oct 29 '17 at 17:20
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The closest equivalent would be "Brain turned to pudding" which is used as a variation of Brain turned to mush

A search on Google turned up the following books that use this phrase

  • Blackout (Cal Leandros #6) Urban Fantasy by Rob Thurman (USA Author)
  • Revisionary (Magic Ex Libris #4) Urban Fantasy by Jim C. Hines (USA Author)
  • Woodrose Mountain, a Romance by Raeanne Thayne (USA Author)
  • The Dividing Head & Deluxe Accersories, non-fiction by David J. Gingery (USA Author)
  • Welcome to English Language & Usage. A proper answer here will need some citation, some reference, beyond simply stating what might seem a correct answer.. You will do well to edit your answer, showing the research you have done. Thanks – J. Taylor Oct 28 '17 at 23:30
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    In which dialects/regions is this saying common? I've heard "mush" used many times, but never "pudding". Is this something you've made up, or is it actually a common idiom? – Cody Gray Oct 29 '17 at 3:55
  • I wonder which meaning of 'pudding' is intended here. It means quite different things in different parts of the world. – Jessica B Oct 29 '17 at 19:13
  • @JessicaB I'd go with sticky toffee pudding myself. But if it is Yorkshire Pudding, is it filled with gravy too? – Colin Mackay Oct 30 '17 at 7:33
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    "Planet of the pudding brains" – Pharap Oct 30 '17 at 19:34
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You could use that exact phrase like this author:

Cause my first husband was a bump on the couch, it was all he could do to sit up and take nourishment, like as soon as the honeymoon was over, his brain turned to yogurt. So I waited six years to find out whether he was ever gonna have an intelligent thought again, and then, when I admit finally all he's ever gonna want to do is watch football, I said see ya later.

  • I think the nuance in your example is different. The Hindi phrase reflects a temporary state (mentally exhausted) whereas this seems to reflect a permanent state (closer to senile). – theindigamer Oct 30 '17 at 13:11
  • this is simply wrong. the figure of speech is mush. of course - obviously - you can google up 10,000 examples of people using other humorous words in there (just try it). – Fattie Oct 30 '17 at 17:42
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    @Fattie "mush" is the most common, but just like you are saying many words work like oatmeal, jelly, etc. Yogurt isn't wrong, it's just uncommon. – DavePhD Oct 30 '17 at 20:51
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Another phrase (maybe less common): Brain turned to porridge

Example (from "McGowan's Ghost" by Cindy Miles):

When he was around her, his idiot brain turned to porridge and could barely form a decent thought.

I am not sure if this refers to loss of brain function due to fatigue, or other circumstances. Take for example

“Uh . . . ,” he said, as what was left of his brain turned to porridge

("Viking unchained", Sandra Hill) where the protagonist loses his ability to think clearly when faced with a woman undressing herself, and intending for him to do the same.

But I've also heard it used by mothers who have young children who don't sleep through the night; months of that can impair brain function in a similar way (but luckily it's reversible).

  • This seems closer to tongue-tied rather than mentally exhausted. – theindigamer Oct 30 '17 at 22:34
  • Note that "mush" is another word for "porridge" - and you seemed to like that answer plenty. From en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_porridges : Mush (cornmeal) [13] a thick cornmeal pudding or porridge usually boiled in water or milk. – Floris Oct 30 '17 at 22:36
  • Well I'm not saying the two words aren't close, or that the idioms aren't close in meaning. I'm saying that (IMHO) the examples you've given reflect confusion rather than mental exhaustion. – theindigamer Oct 31 '17 at 0:24

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