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 Only)

    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'.
  6. angel8848

    angel8848 Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    I have no clue about the road condition in the USA.
  7. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    In American English, "haven't" is used only for the auxiliary "have", as in "I haven't seen him."
    For the possessive "have", it's "I don't have".

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