get / wrap my head around

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by trikkinder, May 23, 2007.

  1. trikkinder Senior Member

    Hi everybody.
    I've having some problems with thise sentence:
    I was attempting to wrap my head around this whole thing.

    "to wrap my head around"... is it an idiom?
    Thanks in advance
  2. AWordLover

    AWordLover Senior Member

    Atlanta, Georgia USA
    USA English
    Yes, it is an idiom. The meaning is to understand or comprehend, and the term is most often used when dealing with complicated topics or subjects where it is hard to simultaneously grasp the meaning of all the parts.
  3. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Yes. An idiom. It means to try to understand the concept. You understand the words, but following the concept is giving you some problem.

    Personally I would not use this idiom. It sounds a bit over-cute to me.
  4. shopping_lover_01

    shopping_lover_01 Senior Member

    English and Polski
    Yes it is an does not mean to literally wrap "my head around something" but to wrap your head around something means to try and understand it. Hope that helps :)
  5. trikkinder Senior Member

    Thank you very much, AWordLover, Packard and Shopping Lover. You've been very clear!
  6. amateurr

    amateurr Senior Member

    Betty is working on creating a fashion magazine for YETI (young editors training initiative). She needs to come up with a cover and a letter from the editor. While Christina is looking for clothing for her cover she is thinking about the letter and says "I can't wrap my head around this letter from the editor." As far as I know there's this expression "get head around something" Does she mean the same thing?

  7. MrMoto Senior Member

    Ottawa, Ontario
    Canada, English
    Yes, it means she cannot understand it.
  8. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    Or, it could mean that she can't figure out how she do something. Normally, I'd agree with MrMoto (that it means she couldn't understand it), but since she's writing it, it means she can't figure out how she wants to do it or what would be appropriate, when she does it. The difference is usually whether you are trying to understand what someone else has done, or you are trying to understand what you are attempting to do.
  9. bhaisahab Member

    English - British
    I have never heard "wrap my head around" only "get my head around".
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2009
  10. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    American English speakers also occasionally say 'get my head around'.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  11. Muwahid

    Muwahid Senior Member

    U.S. English
    There's not really a difference. "Wrap my head around" seems like a more sophisticated way of putting it anyway.
  12. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I've never heard "wrap my head around it" either. Is this familiar to you, Muwahid?
    It sounds quite bizarre, to me.
    It suggests making my head into a big long strip and bandaging the letter with it.
    I don't have the same unpleasant images with "get my head around".
  13. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I am perplexed by the replies from BE speakers. I learned this expression from a BE speaker from the East Midlands. It struck me as "one of those quaint British expressions" at the time. Of course I attribute many things I've never heard before to you lot, whether or not you actually use them.

    There are at least a few BE speakers who seem to know the expression, according to Uncle Googul:

    Results 1 - 10 of about 10,100 for "wrap my head around *"

    As is so often the case, a click-through to the last page of actual citations yields a lower number:

    Results 221 - 224 of 224 for "wrap my head around *"
  14. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    "Wrap [my] head around" may be more AE than British. The country singer Lucinda Williams has a popular song titled "Wrap My Head Around That". A Google searchof the web finds 845 actual hits, mostly American.

    However, a search of UK sites shows that it's not unknown there. I got 225 actual hits, though some of them may have been UK publications of texts that are actually AE. However, the use of Mum tells us that this one is not: (Mum is BE; Mom, AE.)
    My Grandpa is flipping out as is Mum but I'm still not able to wrap my head around it. ...
    An earlier thread on the phrase, which had been used in this very forum by a Canadian contributor:*****

    After all that, I can say that the use here seems strange to me. I agree with the people that say that it is usually said about something that is difficult to understand, which means that it is more likely to apply to ideas that come from the outside, than to your own. I have not heard it used for something that is difficult to accomplish, though it might be. Perhaps it is the topic Betty is supposed to write about that she can't wrap her head around.

    Edit: I cross-posted with Cuchu, thus this post does not take his into account. I see that we got similar Google results for the UK, though.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  15. canyonsvo Member

    I am right down the street from you and am accustomed to hearing "wrap my mind around" used.
  16. colombo-aussie

    colombo-aussie Senior Member

    Spanish - Colombian
    Hi there,

    I know exactly what it means and also how to use it, although my question today is whether this idiom is commonly used among AE speakers. I used it once with a person from California and he seemed to be confused, then I explained to him what I meant to say to which he replied that this is something that is not commonly used in US. Is it true?

    e.g "I can't get my head around the new law"


    << Moderator's note: I have merged this thread with an earlier thread on the same subject. >>
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2011
  17. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    I use it and like it. It's a lively way to say you can't understand something or that you can't grasp the entire subject.
  18. ghotioutofh2o Senior Member

    American English
    I've always heard it as "I can't get wrap my head around the new law."
  19. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I've heard it mainly with "get".

    In any event, it's certainly used in the US.
  20. HallePuppy Senior Member


    I don't hear the expression used much, but that's no reason you can't use it. You don't want to sound like everybody else all the time, right? It's colorful. I like it.

  21. favonius Member

    Graduate students in literary departments seem to like this expression a lot because I have heard it many times (and for the first time, actually) in graduate seminars. I don't like it at all, personally, but if grad students use it, then it certainly sounds smart, even though to me it sounds awful.
  22. zapateado Senior Member

    English USA
    I'm reminded of the older phrase "I can't fathom it" which has the idea of understanding by sensing the measure or extent of something. Wrapping one's head around something has more an idea of embracing (not in the sense of agreeing) or holding, and may come from one of the meanings of to grasp, as in to understand, in the sense of being able to understand something well enough to hold on to it.
  23. HallePuppy Senior Member

    Zapateado expresses it very well. It's quite common in my part of the US to use the idiom "wrap _(something)_ around _(something)_," meaning to get the second something inside the first. It can be used about things, or about ideas. For instance:

    I would love to wrap my stomach around a really good plate of spaghetti. (In other words, "I would like to get a really good plate of spaghetti inside my stomach.)

    So if I say, "I'm having trouble wrapping my head around that," I mean, "I'm having trouble getting that inside my head (understanding it.) It's not slang, but it's not formal either.

  24. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Just wanted to add that before this thread, I don't think I've encountered wrap my head around something, and I use get my head around something.

    I looked up the BNC* and it didn't turn up any instances of 'wrap my head around', and gave 3 instances of 'get my head around'. So that confirms what others have said earlier.

    *British National Corpus
  25. HallePuppy Senior Member

    It's impossible for dictionaries, etc., to list all the local variations of terms and usage. Also, one of the glories of the English language is its great flexibility. In my native region I never heard "get my head around," which simply illustrates that flexibility. In Spanish, for instance, it is not permissible to invent new words, or to use words that have not been sanctioned by the Royal Academy. In English, we invent new words and new meanings all the time, which gives the language great possibilities for color. It's a big world, and it's a wonderful language we have!

  26. martina28882

    martina28882 Member

    No so se ho capito bene ciò che si intende:

    "I think she's pregnant."

    "What? No," I scoffed.

    "She's thrown up every morning this week. There's no way this is the flu."

    I shook my head, unable to wrap my head around it this early in the morning

    “Credo sia incinta.”

    “Cosa? No,” I sbeffeggiai.

    “Ha vomitato tutte le mattine questa settimana. Ho seri dubbi che si tratti d’influenza.”

    Scossi la testa, incapace di dare un senso a tutto ciò così presto al mattino.

    Potrebbe funzionare?

  27. Mary49

    Mary49 Senior Member


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