The saying "draw a blank" is used when you can't remember something or when your mind goes empty. You might use this phrase when you're trying to recall a name, a fact, or an event, but no matter how hard you try, you just can't think of it. You reach into your memory, but all you come up with is a blank - nothing.
The phrase "draw a blank" describes the experience of not being able to remember something. If you say you "drew a blank," it means you were unable to remember or think of something specific, even though you tried. It also suggests you feel frustrated or surprised by your sudden lack of memory.
Let's break down its main meanings and uses:
The phrase "draw a blank" comes from the 16th-century lottery games. Back in those days, people would pick out slips from a box. Some slips had the names of prizes; others were just blank. If you picked a blank slip, you didn't win anything. As time passed, this phrase started to mean not being able to remember something, like hitting a mental roadblock.
"...marriage does resemble a lottery, in which you may draw a prize, though there are a hundred chances to one that you will only draw a blank..."
- Thrift by Samuel Smiles, 1800
Let's look at some examples to understand how to use the idiom "draw a blank" in various situations:
The phrase "draw a blank" is often used in pop culture to express forgetfulness or lack of knowledge.
Here are some instances:
There are many other expressions that you can use instead of "draw a blank."
Here are some of them:
"Draw a blank" means failing to recall something or coming up with no response or result. If you are trying to remember something or find information and can't, you "draw a blank."
You can use it as a verb phrase in a sentence. For example: "When asked to share some words of wisdom, he drew a blank, unsure of what to say." This means that when someone asked him about her words of wisdom, he couldn't remember any.
The term "draw a blank" originates from the world of lotteries in the 16th century. Participants would draw slips from a container - some slips had names of prizes, while others were blank. If you drew a slip that was blank, you didn't win anything.
Yes, "draw a blank" can be used in various contexts, ranging from personal conversations to professional discussions. It's a common way to express forgetfulness or lack of knowledge.
While "draw a blank" often refers to memory lapses, it can also mean failing to get a response or result in a situation. For instance, if you're trying to get information on a topic but can't find any, you could say you "drew a blank."
Yes, despite its informal tone, "draw a blank" can still be used in formal writing as it is widely understood to mean forgetfulness or lack of results.
Yes, the phrase "draw a blank" is used in English-speaking cultures around the world, including the UK, USA, Australia, and Canada. The understanding and usage of the phrase are similar across these cultures.
Yes, "draw a blank" can be used metaphorically to describe situations where efforts yield no results, not just instances of forgetfulness. For example, if a detective finds no clues in a case, they might say they "drew a blank."
Yes, similar phrases include "come up empty," "get a mental block," "go mind blank," and "memory lapse."
The idiom "draw a blank" is a common way to express forgetfulness or a lack of results. It's a versatile phrase that can be used in various contexts, from casual conversations to formal writing.
Here's a quick recap:
Whether you're struggling to remember a piece of information or your efforts to find something come up empty, "draw a blank" is a handy phrase to express your experience.