I have no idea vs I haven't a clue

Discussion in 'English Only' started by cicciosa, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. cicciosa

    cicciosa Senior Member

    Leeds (UK)
    Hi everybody,
    Which are the differences between

    I have no idea and I haven't a clue ?

    When I use to use the fiirst phrase and when the second one?

    Many thanks,
  2. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    I'd say they're interchangeable as far as their meaning is concerned.
    However, I sense a difference of register. Haven't a clue sounds more colloquial (or maybe just more colourful?) to me than have no idea.

    Should be confirmed by natives.
  3. dn88 Senior Member

    To me, I have no idea is more general, a bit stronger than saying I don't know. I think I haven't a clue/I have no clue implies that you can't find a starting point and you don't know how to approach something. Just my opinion.
  4. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    I agree.
    I haven't a clue is meant to sound stronger.
    I haven't go(t) a clue is something I might say to a Londoner of my own social group, to mean that "I haven't the slightest idea".
  5. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I agree with LV4-26 that 'I haven't a clue' sounds more colloquial and colourful. Something else I might use is 'I haven't the foggiest' or 'I haven't the foggiest notion' or 'I haven't the foggiest idea'.

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