1. cgodoy
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    cgodoy New Member

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    Please help! I've been racking my brains and those around me..

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by cgodoy, Sep 25, 2014.

    So I am working on a bit of writing and I am stuck on a phrase. As you all know an epiphany is a sudden understanding of something brought on by an experience. My questions is this: Is there a phrase, word or term for a sudden interest brought about by a random experience.

    For example, reading about a characters hobby and getting inspired to learn more about it or watching T.V. and seeing something in the background that just intrigues you.

    Thank you for helping me put my mind at ease.
     
  2. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Catching the bug.
     
  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with 'catch the bug', or maybe 'whet your appetite'?
     
  4. cgodoy
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    cgodoy New Member

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    Hmm. Whet the appetite is clos. I feel that there is a single word or possible foreign phrase that say that. Essentially the sentence I am trying to construct is along the lines of "I am trying to introduce / whet the appetite in ABC by doing XYZ. Does that help at all?
     
  5. Feral Inferno
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    Feral Inferno Member

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    Spark your interest. I can't think of just a single word.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    what' wrong with "inspire"? Or "awaken an interest"?

    Incidentally, you rack wine, but unless you're a zombie who bottles and ages liquified grey matter, you wrack brains. I hope you don't mind the correction. :)
     
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  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    "whet my interest" returns 263,000 results in Google, so it sounds like it's a phrase that's used.
     
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  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    German has an awesome way of just making up words like that, but I don't think English as such an expression. Suddenly enamoured by a certain hobby, sparked/awakened an interest, got interested, got inspired to pursue etc. Lots of choices :D
     
  9. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Randall Monroe invented the phrase "nerd sniping." I don't see any reason you couldn't use "interest hijacked", or "hyper-realizing."
     
  10. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    How about trolled? :agreed:
     
  11. cgodoy
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    cgodoy New Member

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    @Cogito :) you're right I noticed it two post in. Did feel sheepish. Thank you all, it could be that I am just imagining a more elegant phrase than what is currently available. At this point it might be best to just rework the sentence
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Reminds me of a story my geology teacher told us. He asked his German co-workers what a specific term (forgot the name of it) meant, because it looked German and he knew it originated in Germany and their response? "We don't know, they're just words." :D

    As for a good phrase, OP? Try 'A sudden revelation' or 'A vision from the gods'.
     
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  13. Artist369
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    Artist369 Active Member

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    "Sparked my interest" comes to mind.
     
  14. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    "Attention-jacked"
     
  15. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @cgodoy - Actually, I encountered @Cogito's point about rack vs wrack a few months ago, and had occasion to look it up—so the issue is fresh in my mind. I just looked it up again, to confirm.

    To my astonishment, according to the Webster's New World College Dictionary (1996 edition), the correct term (which is actually listed in the usage bit at the end of the definition) is 'rack my brains.' I was so sure it was 'wrack' myself ...but apparently not. 'Wrack' is listed as meaning a 'wreck' or to 'wreck' something.

    The most recent Pocket Oxford English Dictionary (2013 edition) rides the fence. It says either 'rack' or 'wrack' can be used in the context of racking/wracking brains.

    I was so sure 'rack' was the incorrect spelling, but it appears not. I'm curious as to why both Cogito and I would be so sure it should be 'wracked.' I thought it was just me, but the fact that he also thought this way makes me wonder if the usage/spelling has changed in recent years. Anybody else have a clue?
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
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  16. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or "jack-ashered"
     
  17. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Sure, I'll be a verb.

    On the off topic, Washington State University has published a book called Common Errors in English Usage. The full text is online here. And they are quite clear that--oh I'll just quote it

     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It does appear that usage is changing. The expression, as I have known it, means to tear apart one's brain in search of something, in the same way a storm wracks a coastal setting. The torture device metaphor, if you don't mind me expressing it that way, is a bit of a stretch.

    I suspect the main reason for the shift is because "wrack" is simply less familiar to most people. So the mistaken usage spreads until people start justifying it.

    When wine is racked, it is stored in a way to let the sediment settle and flocculate, clarifying the wine. If that were indeed the term, it would actually help you remember, and it would mean resting your mind and letting the thoughts coalesce. Alas, that is not the case. :).
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, it goes against the grain for me to say 'racking,' when it comes to brains. And I think you're right. It's because 'wrack' is an old-fashioned word that people don't use any more, everybody figures it's the other spelling. But it doesn't make sense, does it? "Racking" a brain means stacking it up on a shelf-like structure? Not exactly the idea we're trying to convey with the expression, is it? I think we're preaching to an empty auditorium on this one, though. I reckon I'll go with the Oxford dictionary, that says you can do both. But grrrr.....
     
  20. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    ...Did you not read the link? You rack your brains because you are putting them on the torture device, "the rack." It was never "wrack" because that word doesn't have anything to do with medieval torture devices.
     
  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Not sure what link you mean, Jack. But... if what you say is correct, then why is it listed as
    'rack OR wrack' in the Oxford dictionary? Which it is.

    In fact, here is an online link with a partial explanation: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/rack

    By the way, I have often heard people say "I've been wracking through my brain, trying to remember..." Which would certainly give support to the idea that, to some, the expression means 'to rummage or make a wreck of' rather than 'torture.'

    Anyway ...as long as both are correct, which, according to Oxford they are, I'm happy to ride with it....
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  22. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    That would be this link, plus all the other stuff
    Edited to add: I believe the Oxford Dictionary misunderstands the origin of the term. No one is staking their brains on a shelf. They are stretching them out for the inquisition.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
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  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I can understand that approach. Torturing the brain. However, that's not the connotation I've ever given that term when I use it myself. I've always used it to mean I'm rummaging frantically through my brain, making a mess of it, looking for something I can't find. And I've heard many people say 'wracking though my brain.' That would indicate that there is another meaning. You wouldn't say 'torturing through my brain.' But you WOULD say 'rummaging through my brain.' So maybe the usage has changed.

    I accept that 'racking' is now a perfectly normal way to think of (and write) this term. However, I would not dismiss the Oxford English Dictionary either. It's considered a world standard dictionary, and my original quote is from the printed version, the 2013 edition. If Oxford says both spellings are correct, then I'll believe them.

    What would be REALLY interesting is to find an old dictionary, say one that is around 100 years old, and see what the spelling was then. In other words ...has the spelling changed? I suspect it has. It's not that I can't spell 'rack.' I would never say a wine wrack, or the wrack underneath that shelf. Nor would I say somebody got tortured on the wrack. (Although they would be wracked with pain—ie they are being wrecked or ruined by pain!) So why do I use that term when I mean searching my brain? And Cogito apparently does the same thing? I don't think we made this up.

    Here's an interesting site that deals with this, quoting modern (and modern-ish) authors, some of whom use one spelling, some the other. Stephen King apparently prefers 'wrack'... interesting...
    http://grammar.about.com/od/alightersideofwriting/a/rackwrackgloss.htm
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  24. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've actually never known this... THANK YOU!!
     
  25. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    You should continue to read for a bit.
     

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