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What phrases can be used interchangably with “I have no idea”?

I request two types of answers:

  • Polite forms of saying it.

  • Casual forms of saying it.

"I have no idea" seems simple and traditional. It doesn't show any emotions of the speaker in responding to the question.

Sometimes I feel that responding just "I have no idea/ I don't know" is not in a proper situation when I talk to my boss.

I also need a more playful expression when I say it ""I have no idea/ I don't know" to my friends.

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  • Wouldn't "I don't know" cover polite and casual?
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 10:19
  • Casual equivalents could be "Search me" (with the emphasis on me) or "I haven't the foggiest" (idea being implied). Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 13:11
  • To your boss: "That's a great question. Let me see if I can find the answer for you."
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 5:07
  • To your friends: "And you think I know this because...."
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 5:08

1 Answer 1

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Although I think it would be a relief for many bosses to just hear an honest 'I have no idea', these polite alternatives might work for you:

"Great question, let me look into it, and I'll get back to you."

"I'm not sure, let me look into it, and I'll get back to you."

Casually, you could say:

"I (really) have no clue."

If you want to emphasise the fact you really have no clue whatsoever, I think you could say:

"I cannot for the life of me understand why/how..."

  • My English is far from perfect yet. Please check all my suggestions before using them ;)

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