October 30, 2006

Lisa: Rack

Last week, Mallory asked me if the expression was "rack your brain" or "wrack your brain," and I was forced to admit that I didn't know.

A ridiculously small amount of research turned up this excellent answer by Joann Hill at Random House. The whole thing is quite interesting if you like that kind of thing (which I do), but here's the relevant paragraph:

The word rack in racking (one's) brain is thus spelled. That is because it derives from the rack, the medieval instrument of torture on which a victim was slowly stretched. (This stems from the familiar rack 'a framework'.) This rack was used as a verb meaning 'to torture on the rack', and hence in the transferred sense 'to torture', and then figuratively 'to stretch or strain', which is the sense in rack (one's) brain.

Fortuitously, 'rack' is also my favorite euphemism for breasts.

Posted by lisa at October 30, 2006 02:54 PM

I'm pretty sure you can use any breast euphemism for that expression.

Now I'm going to go ta-ta my brain for my daily November entries.

Posted by: sarah on October 30, 2006 05:36 PM


Posted by: Andrea (RAZRPHONE!) on October 31, 2006 11:45 AM

Is it weird that I've always wanted to be stretched on a rack? I mean... I don't want my limbs to be pulled so tightly that I get torn in half, but I think it'd feel good to be stretched...

Posted by: Mallory on October 31, 2006 01:19 PM

I second the waniting to be streched thing. Also YAY for librarians.

Posted by: Young Jeffrey on October 31, 2006 06:27 PM
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