In a message dated 4/11/2000 4:15:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] writes: << An expression long-used in our family is "to rack one's brain", i.e. to struggle to remember something. SOED has: # Rack v(3) # 1. ... c. To torture, distract, lacerate (the mind, soul, etc.) 1576 ... # 3.b. To strain, task severely (the mind, brain, etc.) 1583. # [Quote:] Racking his wits to contrive exquisite complements 1880. "Wrack"'s meanings (wreck, destroy, ruin usw.) are close enough to "rack"'s for the words to be confused. For instance, I'm sure I've seen "wracked with pain". >> How curious. Can't recall seeing these words in written form in a long time, though familiar with both ("sea-wrack" etc. in poetry?). My first impulse would have been "wrack my brain....." but then, until 1975, I consistently spelled _lizard_ with two z's, a la _blizzard_ (doctoral committee very kindly pointed out the error, necessitating several annoying corrections).