and particularly British English, appears to be incredibly rich
with informal expressions for I don't understand. Here are
a selection of the most common. Can any of you answer these difficult
someone is described as 'sagacious', what does it mean they are?
(got) no idea
haven't (got) a clue
British king is supposed to have imprisoned his nephews in the Tower
haven't (got) the faintest
haven't (got) the foggiest
got no notion
is another word for idea. Originally, we would have said:
haven't got the faintest / foggiest / slightest idea.
now, it is sufficient to say:
haven't got the faintest / foggiest.
made the first telescope in the world?
got me there.
stumped me there.
a bit stymied there.
expression 'You've stumped me' or 'I'm stumped' derives
from the game of cricket, where if the batsman is stumped,
he is out and his innings is over.
can also use get in this question to mean 'Do you understand?':
you get what I'm saying?
if you don't understand something you can say:
the Bible, which is the second book of the Old Testament?
that's beyond me.
beyond my ken.
my mind's gone blank.
something is beyond your ken, you do not have sufficient
knowledge to be able to understand it. Ken is much used in
informal Scottish English as both a verb and a noun for know and
knowledge. But if your mind goes blank, this suggests that you do
know the answer which might even be on the tip of your tongue, but
it is not immediately available.
music, what is the sixth note in the tonic sol-fa scale?
not with you.
last two synonyms for I don't understand are more colloquial
and not quite in the same politeness register as the earlier alternatives.
However, they are quite acceptable in discourse among friends. The
idea of the last one is that if you did a body search on me, you
would not find the answer to the questions you have asked.
you do know the answers to all these questions, please write to
our board and tell us. A score of 100% would suggest that you
might be a suitable candidate for a TV quiz game!