1

head-scratching

play
noun head-scratch·ing \ ˈhed-ˌskra-chiŋ \
Updated on: 11 Sep 2017

Definition of head-scratching

informal
:the act or activity of scratching one's head while pondering or puzzling over something difficult to understand used figuratively
  • Every year, around the middle of October, the finalists for the National Book Awards are announced to general bafflement. Specifically, it's the fiction shortlist that provokes head-scratching.
  • —Laura Miller
  • This is, ahem, a very complex scientific process involving a great deal of head-scratching and thoughtful staring.
  • —Tom Jordan
; also :confusion

First Known Use of head-scratching

1832


2

head-scratching

adjective

Definition of head-scratching

informal
:difficult to understand :causing puzzlement or confusion
  • … the system can lead to head-scratching results …
  • —Mark Bechtel
  • … we'll be revisiting some of the best, worst, and most head-scratching moments from our archives.
  • —Doug Brod

head–scratchingly

adverb
    • head-scratchingly poor decisions

First Known Use of head-scratching

1827



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up head-scratching? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

agreeable, attractive, or delicious

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!