Green’s Dictionary of Slang

brain n.1

1. (orig. US Und., also brain guy, brains) a planner, an ‘ideas man’, a mastermind, i.e. planning a bank raid but not participating in the actual action; often found in fiction as The Brain or The Brains.

[US]A. Pinkerton Professional Thieves and Detectives 583: Sheridan [...] the ‘brains’ and leader of ‘bank-sneaks.’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 3 Mar. 6/1: The recent arrest [...] of the head and brains of a Canadian gang of counterfeiters [etc].
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 23 Sept. 30/1: One Night the ‘Brains’ called the Gloomy Group together and unfolded a Dark Plot.
[UK]G.R. Sims Anna of the Und. 72: In all other matters her intermediary was John Barrasford, who had been at one time the ‘brains’ of the gang, a man who obtained information of coups to be brought off and arranged the plans of the campaign, but always kept discreetly aloof from the field of operations when they were being carried out. The intimacy brought about by the constant meeting of the ‘brains’ of the International and the young and fascinating female spy gradually ripened into mutual affection.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Big Knockover’ Story Omnibus (1966) 319: Papadopoulos? Little old man? Brains of the push?
[US]D.H. Clarke In the reign of Rothstein 5: Rothstein, who has been called the ‘Brain,’ the ‘Master Mind,’ the ‘Wolf,’ the ‘Czar,’ and other high-sounding titles of the underworld.
[Aus]New Call (Perth, WA) 24 Nov. 3/2: ‘Mabel,’ the ‘Queen’ of London's underworld [...] the ‘brains’ of one of the most powerful smash-and-grab gangs the Yard has ever been up against.
[US]B. Appel Brain Guy (1937) 14: ‘He’s just a snoopin’ weasel.’ ‘A brain guy, huh?’.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 40: She is believed to be the ‘brains’ behind recent country-house raids.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 163: Amthor’s a pretty ruthless sort of lad [...] But I don’t somehow see him as the brain guy of a jewel mob.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 22: I had you figured for a brain.
[Aus]Sun. Mail (Adelaide) 25 Sept. 45/5: ‘The Brain’ was sharp as a tack.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Syndicate (1998) 54: You expect me to believe that pansy was the brains in a half million dollar caper.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 70: If Dalanski was the brain, did he want me out of the way?
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 128: The point was — did he belong to somebody else’s set-up or was he the brains?
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 71: The law’s all over the place like flies lookin’ for the brain be’ind the ’Atton Garden job.
[UK]Vanity Fair 16 Mar. 🌐 Danny Jones has claimed that Basil was an ex-policeman and ‘the brains’ of the operation, but police are dubious.

2. (orig. US, also brains) in non-criminal use of sense 1.

Ade Slim Princess 79: I found out who was the real brains of that outfit.
[UK]E.S. Worrall diary 14 Dec. 🌐 It hurts to think that this great venture may have to be written down as a failure. Behind it all the Brains are working and we must trust them explicitly.
[US]M.E. Smith Adventures of a Boomer Op. 48: I saw the ‘Brains’ talking to the Yard Master.
[UK]M. Harrison Spring in Tartarus 28: She’s the brains of that outfit.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald ‘Pat Hobby Does His Bit’ in Pat Hobby Stories (1967) 103: Don’t finish him till the Brain comes.
[WI]S. Selvon ‘Boomerang’ Foreday Morning (1989) 84: The truth is I am the brains of this two man gang, see, and unless I do the thinking, we starve.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 174: Weber is the brains of the executive mansion.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘To Hull and Back’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] The Dutch firm are the suppliers, Boycie and Abdul are the money men and the Trotters are the brains.
[UK](con. 1981) A. Wheatle East of Acre Lane 189: You’re de brains ’pon dis planned mission.
[SA]Mail & Guardian 15 Apr. 🌐 A South African human rights lawyer is one of the brains behind the [...] label.

3. (orig. US, also brains) an intellectual, an intelligent person, esp. one who is unpleasantly, anti-socially intellectual; also in ironic use.

W. Owen Letter 21 Dec. Coll. Letters (1988) 309: This gentleman is, all round, an ‘interesting’ pupil, and what the French call ‘a Brain’.
[UK]E. Wallace Capt. Souls (1933) 486: He limited the infinite to a circle, and convinced me. I felt like a fourth form boy listening to a ‘brain’, and found myself being respectful!
[Aus]L. Lower Here’s Luck 256: We can’t leave it here, Brains. S’posin’ the owner seen it?
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Brain Goes Home’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 218: The Brain is walking me up and down Broadway.
[US]L. Hoban ‘Time to Kill’ Crack Detective Jan. 🌐 ‘Sit down, brains,’ she said, ‘and listen to a fairy tale. Lugs like you have to learn the facts of life sometime.’.
[US]L. Lariar Day I Died 132: Jesus, what a brain.
[UK]Willans & Searle Complete Molesworth (1985) 230: (he gives a contemptuous look over his shoulder at the sheepish colection of branes [...] behind him).
[US]H. Searls Hero Ship 172: That’s nice, a brain like you. Hey, how come you ain’t made officer?
[US]H. Feldman et al. Angel Dust 76: Straights are the high scholastic or sports achievers, the ‘brains,’ and ‘jocks’.
[Can]M. Atwood Cat’s Eye (1989) 208: They [girls] can be brains and sucks and brown-nosers, like boys, if they are thought to study too much.
[US]Da Bomb 🌐 4: Brain: Smart; intelligent. My friend is a brain.
[US]T. Dorsey Stingray Shuffle 104: There are main roles in a highschool: star quarterback, prom queen, class clown, brain, stoner.

4. (US Und., also brain box) the combination of a safe.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 32: brain [...] brain box The combination of a safe or vault.

5. (US campus) in ironic reversal, a stupid person.

[US]E. Wilson Show Business Nobody Knows 124: ‘Come on, Abe,’ one of the hoods said. ‘Let’s get it the fuck over!’ ‘What great brain dreamed this up?’ Abe asked them.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 2: brain – dummy: ‘I forgot the money.’ ‘You’re such a brain’.

6. (US black) fellatio.

[US]T.I. ‘No Mediocre’ 🎵 Said I got that don dick, she wanna be my tutor / So she give me brain, getting head on the scooter.
Chief Keef ‘Laurel Canyon’ 🎵 I was getting brain in my car switching lanes.
[UK]G. Krauze What They Was 169: Davina is a good ting. She ain’t one of them dutty hood rats [who] will give man brain in the traphouse .

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

brainer (n.)

a conundrum, something that taxes the intelligence.

[UK]Satirist (London) 9 June 5/3: [of a riddle] The corps of Aldermen swore ‘’twas a brainer’.

In compounds

brain box (n.)

see sense 4 above.

brain bucket (n.)

1. (US, also brain barrel) the head, the skull.

[US]Ballou’s Dollar Monthly Mag. Oct. 325: He fetched me such a clip on top of my brain-bucket as to drive all my senses clear down to my boots .
D. Wise Oscar’s Boyhood 64: Ed, haven’t you got your brain-bucket mended yet, so that you can tell us a story?
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Sept. 48/2: See here, guvner [...], don’t let no more schemes o’ this sort generate in yer brain barrel, coz I don’t wear a wig in bed for four days again fer no man livin’! 🌐 Dave Darling shares insight into saving your brain bucket. [...] not many people can bench-press the weight of the engine [...] in the split-second that it takes for the engine to fall on their head!

2. a protective helmet, whatever its use.

Las Cruces Sun-News (NM) 7 Mar. 1/6: The ‘brain buckets’ like football helmets, that we wore, shut out the soft, muffled roar of the engine.
[US]Current Sl. I:3 1/2: Brain bucket, n. A motorcycle helmet.
Skiing Nov. 108: It’s not the kind of a ski you’d want to clamp on your feet when you strap on a brain bucket for some downhill .
Life Mag. 12 May 37: Then the helmet again, ‘Goddam! I’d go mad if I had to wear this brain bucket all the time’.
[US]Boys’ Life May 13: And what about the hassle of wearing a ‘brain bucket’?
[US]Source Oct. 3: Strap on the brain bucket. 🌐 Because if it wasn’t for that [i.e. protection], let’s be honest, no one would choose to wear a brain-bucket.
J. Johnson Willpower to Live 171: ‘The good old brain bucket!’. I said ‘pardon?’ ‘Yeah! The helmet your wearing. We call them SKID LIDS around here! Skid lid or brain bucket!’.
brain burp (n.) [the spontaneity of an explosion of wind]

1. (US campus) a random thought.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 2: brain burp – random thought. ‘Boy that was a brain burp if ever I heard one! What in the world are you talking about?’.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 42: brain burp ‘random thought’.
[Can]J. Singh Epic of Stick-Guy [ebook] The story of Stick-Guy, the ill-drawn brain-burp of Stan the Burger-flipper [...] transcends the barrier of time.

2. a brief instance of mental dysfunction.

N. Booth Strategies for Fast-Changing Times 117: For me, the brain-burp metaphor acts as a ‘pattern interrupt.’ It breaks my conditioned pattern of automatically getting upset when people do something I don’t agree with.
Computerworld 10 Jan. 16: Sorry for the brain burp, and especially for the appearance that it was Bean’s supersharp brain that had gas.
J. Osmond Stages 106: I told him I was sorry, I had a brain burp.
brain-canister (n.)

(orig. boxing) the head.

[Scot]Blackwood’s Edinburgh Mag. Sept. 366/2: Quin [...] napped a tinger on the top part of his brain-canister from Norton’s left.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]Times-Democrat (New Orleans, LA) 9 July 3/6: Prize Ring Slang [...] ‘Brain canister’, ‘lob,’ ‘nob,’ ‘lolly,’ the head.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 11: Brain Canister, the head.
[US]Atchison Dly Champion (KS) 12 Mar. 2/1: We hear nothing now of how one of the men landed with his ‘bunch of fives’ upon his opponent’s ‘peeper,’ or thumped him upon his ‘brain canister,’ or ‘fibbed him on his portmanteau’.
brain capsule (n.) [the supposedly stimulating properties of nicotine]

(US) a cigarette.

[US]Hughie Cannon ‘Little Gertie Murphy’ 🎵 I can’t even smoke a brain capsule / When I’m out wid dis little dame.
Oregon Dly Jrnl (OR) 16 Sept. 3/6: Says Wife Smoked Brain Capsules. Charging that his wife smoked cigarettes [...] He says his wife has been unduly gay and has been intoxicated at times while puffing the blue smoke of her ‘coffin nail’.
[US]L.A. Times 12 Feb. 20/1: Howard shoved [in] a brain capsule (high brow for cigarette), set fire to the straw and proceded on with his good work.
Idaho State Jrnl (ID) 28 June 4/3: There is a big surprise for consumers of ‘brain capsules’ as well as the manufacturers and handlers of cigarettes in the new state criminal code.
brainchild (n.)

(US) a very intelligent person.

J. Jackson on CBS 11 Feb. [CBS-TV] Let’s face it, Lester Maddox is no brainchild [HDAS].
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar.
brain college (n.) [ironic use]

(US) a lunatic asylum.

[US]F.P. Dunne Mr Dooley in Peace and War 194: Whin a man begins f’r to see shtrange things, an’ [...] thinks he’s Vanderbilt drivin’ a four-in-hand, we sind him to what me ol’ friend Sleepy Burk calls th’ brain college.
J. Huneker Visionaries 77: You ought to be in the Brain-College, Arved, where your friends could take the little green car that goes by the grounds and see you on Sunday afternoons if weather permit.
brain cramp (n.)

(US) a brief episode of faulty thinking or judgment.

[US]J. Buskey Tinged Valor 31: Green must have had a brain cramp because he locked himself in the back seat of his own cruiser with one of the ‘new girls’ on the strip.
brain damage (n.) [its supposed effects]

1. beer, or any strong intoxicating drink.

[Aus]D. Maitland Breaking Out 219: Within seconds he had produced yet another bottle of brain-damage, this one a home-made mango wine.
[UK]P. Theroux Kowloon Tong 40: ‘What’s yours, squire?’ ‘Pint of brain damage.’.

2. (drugs) heroin.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 4: Brain damage — Heroin.
brain dead

see separate entries.

brain drain (n.)

the emigration of highly qualified people, generally scientists and academics, from a country (e.g. Britain) in search of more prestigious jobs, better facilities for research and higher salaries.

[US]N.Y. Times 16 Feb. 2: The ‘brain drain’, as the departure of scientists is called here, is not new to Britain.
[SA]J. Cock Maids and Madams 67: It has been suggested that the biggest single ‘brain drain’ in industrialised societies today is ‘down the kitchen sink’.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 41: From general American slang come brain drain ‘the loss of intellectual and educated people from a community because of a lack of opportunity’ and boob tube ‘television’.
[UK]Indep. 3 Feb. 5: Survey says ‘brain drain’ is worse than ever as record numbers of academics go west.
brain drainer (n.)

(Aus.) a university.

[Aus]A. Buzo Norm and Ahmed (1973) 6: ahmed : I am studying it at the university. norm : You’re out at the old brain drainer, eh?
brain fart

see separate entries.

brain guy (n.)

see sense 1 above.

brainless wonder (n.) (also fuckless wonder) [SE brainless + wonder, an outstanding specimen of something + ? play on a carnival attraction, the ‘Boneless Wonder’]

(US) a fool, a scatter-brained person; a stupid thing.

Dly Democrat (Huntington, IN) 30 July 2/1: Isn’t the whole tariff system, as it has been McKinleyized, a ‘brainless wonder’.
[US]Galena Eve. Times (KS) 2 Mar. 3/5: Some people might think him a brainless wonder, but such is not the case.
[US]Railway Carmen’s Journal 18 157/1: Another brainless wonder told me and another boomer if we were not satisfied we should leave as we did not belong.
[US]J.M. Grider War Birds (1926) 106: Sheila, Peggy and the Queen Bee and the Brainless Wonder were all here.
[[US] H.C. Witwer Smile A Minute 373: Lefty never had a chance with this bird and might just as well of been a armless wonder].
[US]Black Mask Aug. III 35: It’s funny face – the brainless wonder.
[US]F.H. Hubbard Railroad Avenue 334: Brains or The Brains – Conductor; sometimes called brainless wonder, a term also applied to any train or engineman or official who does things his fellows consider queer.
[US]N. Mailer Why Are We in Vietnam? (1970) 14: You anthropologist manqué, you fuckless wonder.
E. Jahiel ‘Movie Reviews’ at 🌐 ‘Dave,’ a populist delight, will certainly be the first of the summer blockbusters. This distinction does not apply to a special-effects spectacular, to a film that panders to basic reactions or base instincts, or to a brainless wonder, but to a very good, cannily executed comedy-fantasy.
Hotstove Diner 🌐 The guy drives me nuts. You’d think they could get someone halfway talented to announce the World Freaking Series, but no, we’re stuck with this brainless wonder.
brainpan (n.) [SE brain-pan, that which contains the brain, the skull]

1. the human head.

[UK]Skelton Dyvers Balettys and Dyties Solacyous ii line 31: He bresyth theyr braynpannys and makyth them to swell.
[UK]Skelton Elynour Rummynge line 75: With a whym wham, Knyt with a trym tram, Vpon her brayne pan.
[UK]J. Heywood Pardoner and Friar Aiii: Lo, of saynt Mychell eke the brayn pan / Which for the hed ake is a preseruatyse / To euery man.
[UK]J. Withals Dictionarie in Eng. and Latine ‘Parts of the bodie’ Tiii: The brayne panne, calua.
[UK]Shakespeare Henry VI Pt 2 IV x: Many a time, but for a sallet, my brain-pan had been cleft with a brown-bill.
[UK]Machin & Markham Dumbe Knight I i: I thinke the knaue be madde, sirra you chop logicke, blockhead, you that haue your braine panne made of dry leather.
[UK]J. Taylor Laugh and Be Fat 24: Thou art no creame-pan neither, worthy man, / Although thy wits lie in thy heads braine pan.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Bonduca V ii: You are wise, Sir, Your honourable brain-pan full of crotchets.
[UK]Massinger Virgin-Martyr II ii: Oh, sir, his brain-pan is a bed of snakes, Whose sting shoots through his eyeballs.
[UK]Tinker of Turvey 8: If I fry not in my Brain-pan something or other that shall make them swallow a Horse-plum, say I’m no Pedlar.
[UK]R. Brathwait Honest Ghost 94: Look to your Brain-pans, Boyes – here comes a Traine of Roysting Rufflers that are knaves in the graine.
[Ire]Head Hic et Ubique I i: Do you think my brain-pan instead of guts, is plenified with obfulcosities?
[UK]Dryden Kind Keeper III i: I have a luscious Air forming, like a Pallas, in my Brain-pan.
[UK]W. Robertson Phraseologia Generalis 277/1: The Brain-pan; Cranium.
[UK]Lover’s Pacquet 33: Men of greatest sense may sometimes crack his brain-pan, and become a little delerious.
[UK]W. Holloway Dict. of Provincialisms 17/1: Brain-Pan, the skull.
[UK] ‘Characters of Freshmen’ in Whibley In Cap and Gown (1889) 179: He rejoiceth in surmounting his brain-pan with a very small piece of cap.
[US]W.E. Burton Waggeries and Vagaries 180: Mr. D’s cranium – positive mountains amongst the ant hills thrown up by the other propensities affecting his brain pan.
‘The Druid’ Post and Paddock 53: As clear and cutting wits as ever nestled in a brain-pan.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Tasmania 13 Sept. 3/6: Lanky went in, made a slasher on the brain pan followed by a [illegible] on the bread basket.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Life in the Saddle 4: I’ve been thinking half the afternoon where my spirit would be now, if that bullet [...] had gone three or four inches lower than it did, and made a hole in my brain-pan!
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]Colfax Chron. (Grant Parish, LA) 28 Oct. 1/6: If you come around [...] tryin’ experiments on me, I’ll wrench your brain-pan for you.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 Dec. 6/6: If the gorger wakes up tonight, a knock on his brainpan shall do his business.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Oct. 18/2: He was standing at the bow-window with his adored and her assembled family, and it was not till six weeks afterwards that it dawned on him why he had been biffed out on his collar-bone and had his brain-pan fractured in several places.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 11: Brain Pan, the skull.
[US]Brownsville Daily Herald (TX) 28 May n.p.: he was struck squarely on the head by an electric bolt. It stripped the hair from one side of his brainpan.
[Ire]J.M. Synge Playboy of the Western World Act III: It’d split my heart to hear them, and I with pulses in my brain-pan for a week gone by.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Aug. 12/3: The wise old Roman Church makes a saint wait 400 years for the head-hoop or brain-pan blazon.
[US]H.S. Truman letter 11 Feb. in Poen Letters Home (1984) 79: It would surprise you how well my brain pan is feeling.
[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 272: His brain automatically atrophies and becomes detached from the brain-pan.
[NZ]D. Davin For the Rest of Our Lives 168: Saved from the consciousness of impending extinction by the smallness of his brainpan. His brain was bigger now than then, too big for immunity from fear.
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 133: Talks nonsense. Sounds like the sun fried his brainpan.
[US]C. Heath A-Team 2 (1984) 34: I say a quick bullet to the brain pan is still the best way to go.
[US]G. Indiana Rent Boy 90: Who knows, with enough dope melting his brainpan maybe the segue from trainee paramedic to kidnapper-hitman wouldn’t strike him as a completely losing proposition.

2. the mind.

[UK]Marston Malcontent IV iii: A most sound brain-pan!
[Scot](con. early 17C) W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel I 305: ‘A hard word it is,’ said Richie, ‘as my brain-pan kens [...]’ ‘Were I your master, sirrah [...] I would make your brain-pan, as you call it, boil over, were you to speak a word in my presence before you were spoken to.’.
[UK]Torch Light & Public Advertiser (Hagersstown, MD) 6 May 7/1: Ask the fop what books he’s read, / You’ll find the brain pan of his head / As empty as a bellows.
[US]County Paper (Oregon, MO) 9 Sept. n.p.: Whenever this editor’s brain-pan is about exhausted he uses ‘Mud Cat‘ as a recuperative. He says it has wonderful brain-restoring properties.
[US]Mohave County Miner (AZ) 30 May 5/2: He will work his brainpan and say what ought to be if he can’t say what really is.
[Aus]‘Miles Franklin’ My Brilliant Career 28: He gave one the impression of having all his ideas on the subjects he thought worthy of attention carefully culled and packed in his brain-pan.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Names’ Sporting Times 30 Jan. 1/2: A pretty name [...] yet my brain-pan’s unresponsive to its claims. Tell me where and when we met.
[UK]N. Gale ‘The Complaint’ in A Flight of Fancies 41: He’s given a sum / That makes his brainpan hum.
[Ire]D. MacDonagh Happy as Larry Act IV: Damn it, what’s in the bottle? / My head isn’t clear. / My brain-pan is melting.
[SA]Casey ‘Kid’ Motsisi ‘Chance Encounters’ Casey and Co. (1978) 49: This guy [...] should have his brain pan examined.
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 70: I do not clutter up my brain-pan with cockamamy stuff like that.
[US]C. Hiaasen Native Tongue 73: The words tumbled around like dice in his brainpan. Made no damn sense.
[Scot]I. Rankin Let It Bleed 141: It does ring a bell, way at the back of the old brainpan.
brain-pot (n.)

the skull, the head.

[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 158: Their brain-pots came together with a shock that sent both staggering.
[US]C. Abbey diary 27 Oct. in Gosnell Before the Mast (1989) 219: He ran out & got a belaying pin, & gave ‘old Burgoo’ a whack over the brain pot.
L. Osborn School for Critics 473: In fine, they will stuff, with goetic [sic] agility, / Your brainpot with feathers and your heart’s pipes with lead.
W. Besant Bells of St Paul’s I 171: The Philosopher took up a skull which stood on the table and turned it over in his hands. [...] ‘Here is your man,’ he said. ‘This is his brainpot’.
[US]L.A. Times 30 Nov. 4/7: The people listened dumb when they heard his bran-put hum, / When they sasw the great thoughts come piping-hot.
R. Elliott Hi-You 81: You're clean waterlogged in your brainpot. Sailormen picking up shells on the sea shore, well, I'm jiggered on a raft !
[US]Arizona Republican 12 June sect. 2 4/2: Dundee is not without at least a modicum of gray matter in the brain-pot.
Our Boarding House 28 May [synd. cartoon] He’s probably trying to start his brain-pot percolating on an invention.
Sedalia Democrat (MO) 29 June 11/4: Percentages rattled in our brainpots.
brain salad surgery (n.) [pun on head n. (2c)]

(US) fellatio.

[US]Rebennack & Rummel Under A Hoodoo Moon 190: I came up with the old Ninth Ward slang: ‘I’m just in need of a little brain salad surgery,’ which was a way of saying you’re out looking for head. The brain surgery bit caught up in pop slang.
brainstem (n.) [SE brainstem, ‘the central trunk of the brain upon which the cerebrum and cerebellum are set, and which continues downwards to form the spinal cord’ (OED)]

(US campus) an eccentric.

[US]L. Hindle Dragon Fall 41: Some total brainstem tossed some kinda bomb onto your side of the floor [...] Pretty sorry scene .
brainstorm (n.) [ext. of SE use; popularized by the murder trial of society architect Harry Thaw in 1906–8, during which his lawyer claimed he had suffered a ‘brain storm’]

1. (orig. US) a sudden inspiration or bright idea; thus brainstorming.

[US]Lebanon Dly News (PA) 28 Mar. 12/2: If the Thaw trial hangs on much longer, there’ll be some magnificent specimens of brain-storms amog the long-suffering jury.
[US]Raleigh Eve. Times (NC) 12 Feb. 1: [headline] In Harry Thaw’s Restless and Glaring Eyes Dr Evans Saw Brain Storm, Insanity.
[US]Washington Herald (DC) 10 Jan. 39/1: These alienists [...] can lead a jury through the mazes of paranoia, dementia Americana, mania, brainstorm and monomania.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Bulldog Drummond 68: I hear you’re in the throws of a brainstorm.
[US](con. 1918) L. Nason Top Kick 113: Why there was rumours about our goin’ before you had your brain-storm even.
[US]W.M. Raine Cool Customer 309: Another of your brain storms.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 8: Then I got a brainstorm.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Lead With Your Left (1958) 25: What the devil brought that brainstorm on?
[US]G. Swarthout Where the Boys Are 146: We did some brainstorming.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 105: I [...] blurted out my brainstorm.
[US]E. Thompson A Garden of Sand (1981) 37: And this soybean scheme sounds like a brainstorm from the same pissin source.
[US]M. Braun Judas Tree (1983) 13: ‘Holy Hannah!’ she squealed. ‘I just had a brainstorm!’.
[UK]K. Lette Llama Parlour 229: That was when Grossman got his brainstorm.
[US]S. King Dreamcatcher 6: What about SSDD? Whose brainstorm had that been?

2. a nervous breakdown, a physical or emotional collapse.

[UK]Daily Chronicle 13 Feb. 7/5: Ordeals of mind which formed a brain-storm or mental explosion .
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 72: The elder woman lay in bed, across her forehead and eyes a wet-pack of towel for easement of the headache she and Saxon tacitly accepted as substitute for the brain-storm.
[US]J. Dixon Free To Love 64: All that ails you is a first-class brainstorm. It’s the heat, I guess.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Age Of Consent 79: He was so puffing and fuming that he had to pull up for breath, and take his hat off to ease the smoking hot pressure of a brainstorm.
[UK]A. Buckeridge Jennings Goes To School 173: That sort of thing leads to nervous breakdowns and brainstorms and things.
[UK]G.F. Newman Villain’s Tale 50: You having a fucking brainstorm or something, Dolly? I should think you fucking well must be.
brain tablet (n.) [the supposedly stimulating properties of nicotine]

(US) a cigarette.

[US]Hutchinson News (KS) 14 Apr. 8/4: ‘Cig Smokers Warned. [...] Hutchinson minors had better stow the ‘brain tablets’ [...] Chief of Police Hern has officially declared was on nicotine .
Brown Co. World (Hiawatha, KS) 19 July 11/4: ‘Give me a brain tablet,’ one brakeman said to another. He was handed a cigarette.
[US]Brooklyn Dly Eagle (NY) 25 Sept. 56/6: He placed a brain tablet in his head [...] A ‘brain tablet’ is a cigarette.
[US]Buckner ‘Ranch Diction of the Texas Panhandle’ in AS VIII:1 31: brain tablet. Cigarette.
[US]R.F. Adams Cowboy Lingo 206: The cigarette itself was referred to as a ‘brain tablet’.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
B. Scott Hot Lead & Cold Nerve 11: With the brain tablet functioning properly, he glanced at the sheriff.
(con. 1892) F. Manfred Riders of Judgment 40: ‘How about a brain tablet then?’ ‘Say, a cigarette would taste good about now’.
brain ticklers (n.) [amphetamine accelerates the activity of the central nervous system and thence the brain]

(drugs) amphetamines.

[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 205: I thought the term had something to do with an overdose of brain-ticklers – the maddened victim having slunk off in the woods like a sick animal, to ride out his delirium without disturbing the others.
[US]R. Sabbag Snowblind (1978) 240: The most popular word is ups. Brain ticklers, browns, cartwheels [...] are words of the sixties and are out of use now.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 4: Brain ticklers — Amphetamine.
brainwave (n.)

a sudden inspiration or bright idea.

C. Reade Put Yourself in his Place II 67: As if by the influence of what they call a brain-wave, Grace Carden [...] was moved to ask [...] whether she might see the other side of the picture.
[US]Harper’s Mag. Apr. 744/1: Lucilla, with what she was fond of terming a brain wave, comprehended the situation .
[UK]W. Pett Ridge Madame Prince 9: ‘A brainwave,’ said Phyllis [...] ‘has just occured to me.’.
[Aus]Horsham Times (Vic.) 23 July 12/6: Should the brain-wave occur to a strike leader: ‘Shame!’ cry the bosses, ‘he’s trying the issue to tangle’.
[Aus]A.W. Upfield House of Cain 251: I got a brain-wave!
[US]R. Chandler ‘Finger Man’ in Pearls Are a Nuisance (1964) 82: Lou had a brainwave. He offered the boy a C-note to let him drive the cab.
[UK]C. Day Lewis Otterbury Incident 49: And the final touch was a brainwave from Peter Butts.
[UK]S. Murphy Stone Mad (1966) 49: It often happened that I got a brainwave in bed about a tricky job.
[US]J. Kirkwood There Must Be a Pony! 250: I was pretty damn sure all I was going to get for my brilliant brain wave was the living daylights scared out of me.
[US]S. King Dead Zone (1980) 237: Got any brainwaves, Mr. Smith?
[UK]S. Armitage ‘Untitled, with Flowers’ in Kid 28: A brain wave! We stand them / in the loo.
half-brain (adj.)

(US) stupid.

[US]J. Buskey Tinged Valor 69: [H]alf-brain police officers who will always have policing limited to a job rather than a profession.

In phrases

do someone’s brain in (v.)

to drive mad, to exasperate.

Modern Drummer 9:7-12 106/1: I see all these people lip syncing crass lyrics, and it does my brain in.
[US]Mojo 15 Sept. n.p.: Syd [Barrett][...] was a terribly nice lad but it [i.e. success] did his brain in.
[UK]J. Cameron Hell on Hoe Street 173: Serious grief is what we got! Be doing my brain in!
get one’s brain brushed (v.)

(Aus.) usu. in phr. ought to get [one’s] brain brushed, the subject is stupid/mistaken and needs to think again .

[Aus]Conowindra Star (NSW) 1 Mar. 1/6: He should bave his brains brushed and lubricated.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 11 May 2/3: If he does tbe dreadful thing for fame and no extra pay, tben he ought to get his brains brushed.
[Aus]Richmond River Herald (NSW) 15 Apr. 9/1: people ask me if I really do think he requires to have his brains brushed.
[Aus]Inverell Times (NSW) 18 Mar. 7/3: The man responsible for sending the notice should have his brains brushed. He should be medically, examined in order to find out whether or not he was in his right senses.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 2 June 5/6: Prlgg ought to have had his brains brushed when ho gave Queensland a 50-yards’ gain.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 27 Feb. 14/1: Any Australian crazy enough to vote ‘Yes’ to put all industry in political shackles ought to have his brains brushed.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 18 Apr. 1/1: Somebody at the production end should have his brains brushed.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 31 Oct. 1/2: A NYONE who suggested it was anti British to borrow dollars to support, sterling ‘should have his brains brushed up,’ Sir Douglas Copland, [...] said.
fuck someone’s brains out (v.) (also hump someone’s brains out, ball/fuck one’s brains out, fuck the brains out of someone) [fuck v. (1)/ball v.3 /hump v.1 (1)]

to copulate very strenuously and poss. sadistically, usu. of a man to a woman.

[US] in Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) II 624: Just get yourself a squaw, / And fuck the brains right outa your head.
[US]E. Tidyman Shaft 164: I used to take a girl like that [...] Fuck their brains out.
[US]Ramis, Kenney & Miller Animal House [film script] You’re gonna hump her brains out, aren’t you?
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 227: You know what I been doing since I saw you last? Balling my brains out.
[Aus]Tracks (Aus.) June 45: Recently I fucked the brains out of a northern bushpig.
[US]G. Indiana Rent Boy 42: There’s a call from a regular [...] wants to know can I fuck his brains out between three and four on Saturday afternoon.
[US]L. Pettiway Honey, Honey, Miss Thang 16: He fucked my brains out with that little dick.
J.A. Rozhon Melodie’s Song 24: If it wasn’t two o’clock in the morning, I’d fuck your brains out, baby?
[Scot]A. Parks April Dead 151: ‘[A] girl called Helen, don’t know her second name, fucked her brains out’.
get up off one’s brains (v.)

(Aus.) to be motivated.

N. Bond Lancelot Biggs: Spaceman 119: Get up off your brains, Sparks, an' take a message.
[US]J.E. Macdonnell Jim Brady 69: Come on Jim—get up orf your brains and lets get goin’.
out of one’s brain(s) (adj.) (also off one’s brain(s), out of one’s cranium)

1. intoxicated with drugs, or alcohol; thus go off one’s brain.

[US](con. late 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 484: He’s wild, man! Screwy! Jacked off his brains or somethin.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 14: Maybe when [...] everyone gets tired of him going off his brain every week and sympathy runs out, he’ll pull himself up.
[Aus]D. Maitland Breaking Out 58: See? He’s pissed out of his brain.
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 52: Ben’s still out of his brain and Dapper Davis is going on being his horrible usual self.
[Ire]F. Mac Anna Cartoon City 5: More stimulating than getting out of his cranium in The Nerve nightclub.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 26 Jan. 7: When I was pissed out of my brains.
[Aus]L. Redhead Peepshow [ebook] I’d danced for a bucks’ party off their brains on Es, everyone peaking so badly their eyes were rolling back.

2. mad, crazy; thus go off one’s brain, to go mad, to lose emotional control.

[Aus]A. Buzo Rooted I i: bentley: You think everyone liked the music? gary: Oh yeah. Diane went off her brain.
[Aus]D. Williamson What If You Died Tomorrow (1977) I i: That fuckwitted agent of yours is really driving me right off my brain.

3. overwhelmed.

[Ire]F. Mac Anna Cartoon City 255: ‘Dentist,’ Myles said. ‘Out of my brain with pain. I had to get an emergency filling.’.