- Anatomy, Zoology. the part of the central nervous system enclosed in the cranium of humans and other vertebrates, consisting of a soft, convoluted mass of gray and white matter and serving to control and coordinate the mental and physical actions.
- Zoology. (in many invertebrates) a part of the nervous system more or less corresponding to the brain of vertebrates.
- Sometimes brains. (used with a plural verb) understanding; intellectual power; intelligence.
- the brain as the center of thought, understanding, etc.; mind; intellect.
- brains, Slang. a member of a group who is regarded as its intellectual leader or planner: The junior partner is the brains of the firm.
- Informal. a very intelligent or brilliant person.
- the controlling or guiding mechanism in a computer, robot, pacemaker, etc.
- the part of a computer system for coordination or guidance, as of a missile.
- to smash the skull of.
- Slang. to hit or bang (someone) on the head.
- beat one's brains out, Informal. to try very hard to understand and work out a problem, remember something, etc.: She beat her brains out studying for the exam.
- have something on the brain, to have an obsession; be occupied with: Lately I seem to have food on the brain.
- pick someone's brains, to obtain information by questioning another person rather than by seeking it independently: He refused to prepare for the exam but counted on being able to pick his roommate's brains.
Origin of brain
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- the soft convoluted mass of nervous tissue within the skull of vertebrates that is the controlling and coordinating centre of the nervous system and the seat of thought, memory, and emotion. It includes the cerebrum, brainstem, and cerebellumTechnical name: encephalon Related adjectives: cerebral, encephalic
- the main neural bundle or ganglion of certain invertebrates
- (often plural) informal intellectual abilityhe's got brains
- informal shrewdness or cunning
- informal an intellectual or intelligent person
- (usually plural; functioning as singular) informal a person who plans and organizes an undertaking or is in overall control of an organization, etc
- an electronic device, such as a computer, that performs apparently similar functions to the human brain
- on the brain constantly in mindI had that song on the brain
- pick someone's brain to obtain information or ideas from someone
- to smash the skull of
- slang to hit hard on the head
Word Origin and History for beat one's brains out
Old English brægen "brain," from Proto-Germanic *bragnam (cf. Middle Low German bregen, Old Frisian and Dutch brein), from PIE root *mregh-m(n)o- "skull, brain" (cf. Greek brekhmos "front part of the skull, top of the head"). But Liberman writes that brain "has no established cognates outside West Germanic ..." and is not connected to the Greek word. More probably, he writes, its etymon is PIE *bhragno "something broken."
The custom of using the plural to refer to the substance (literal or figurative), as opposed to the organ, dates from 16c. Figurative sense of "intellectual power" is from late 14c.; meaning "a clever person" is first recorded 1914. Brain teaser is from 1923. Brain stem first recorded 1879, from German. Brain drain is attested from 1963. An Old English word for "head" was brægnloca, which might be translated as "brain locker." In Middle English, brainsick (Old English brægenseoc) meant "mad, addled."
"to dash the brains out," late 14c., from brain (n.). Related: Brained; braining.
- The portion of the central nervous system that is enclosed within the cranium, continuous with the spinal cord, and composed of gray matter and white matter. It is the primary center for the regulation and control of bodily activities, receiving and interpreting sensory impulses, and transmitting information to the muscles and body organs. It is also the seat of consciousness, thought, memory, and emotion.encephalon
- The part of the nervous system in vertebrates that is enclosed within the skull, is connected with the spinal cord, and is composed of gray matter and white matter. It is the control center of the central nervous system, receiving sensory impulses from the rest of the body and transmitting motor impulses for the regulation of voluntary movement. The brain also contains the centers of consciousness, thought, language, memory, and emotion. See more at brainstem cerebellum cerebrum.
- A bundle of nerves in many invertebrate animals that is similar to the vertebrate brain in function and position.
The central organ in the nervous system, protected by the skull. The brain consists of the medulla, which sends signals from the spinal cord to the rest of the brain and also controls the autonomic nervous system; the pons, a mass of nerve fibers connected to the medulla; the cerebellum, which controls balance and coordination; and the cerebrum, the outer layer of which, the cerebral cortex, is the location of memory, sight, speech, and other higher functions.
The cerebrum contains two hemispheres (the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere), each of which controls different functions. In general, the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and such functions as spatial perception, whereas the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and functions such as speech.
Under the cerebral cortex are the thalamus, the main relay center between the medulla and the cerebrum; and the hypothalamus, which controls blood pressure, body temperature, hunger, thirst, sex drive, and other visceral functions.
Idioms and Phrases with beat one's brains out
beat one's brains out
Make a great mental effort to understand, solve, or remember something, as in Joe's beating his brains out to finish this puzzle. Christopher Marlowe used this hyperbolic idiom in The Massacre of Paris (1593): “Guise beats his brains to catch us in his trap.” Also see rack one's brains.