T-learning # Idiom
Speak Like a Native

to pick someone’s brains

Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) to want to kill someone

Sorry, wrong answer. Please try again.

b) to annoy somebody greatly

Sorry, wrong answer. Please try again.

c) to talk with someone to find out more information about something

Well done ! That’s the right answer.

If someone is to pick your brains, they are probing for answers, to find out things in more detail.

French translation

faire appel aux lumières de quelqu’un, faire appel à quelqu’un, consulter

How NOT to translate : *piocher dans le cerveau de quelqu’un

Examples in context

‘I’m nice to everyone, just not you : Stephanie Pratt continues to pick on Gary Busey in the Celebrity Big Brother house.

He’s clashed with several housemates since entering the Celebrity Big Brother house. And 70-year-old actor Gary Busey continued to be targeted by his co-stars during the latest dramatic installment of the Channel 5 show.

It wasn’t all bad news for the star however, with some of the housemates taking an interest in his glittering film career.
Audley told him, ‘I’m going to pick your brains. I’ve finished my boxing career’, to which Gary jokingly retorted, ‘I’m going to direct Audley and Leslie in Of Mice And Men.’

The Daily Mail, 24th August 2014


’Should You Let Someone Pick Your Brain For Free ?

Last week, I received an email from a friend asking me to lunch — and asking if I wouldn’t mind giving him some tips about his career.

I happily agreed to meet ; he is an old friend, and we were long overdue for a catch-up. But lately I’ve been overwhelmed by these “brain picking” requests. And judging by the social media flareup after the recent New York Post article, Why People are Now Charging to Network Over Coffee, I’m not the only one.

It’s not that I don’t want to help. Quite the opposite. I find it enjoyable to mentor, share information and pay it forward.’

Forbes Magazine, 15th July 2014


Everyday usage

I spent the afternoon with Donna, picking her brain for ideas to use in our celebration.

If you have a minute to spare, I’d like to pick your brains about the meeting you had last week in Lille. Was it interesting ?

Missed last week’s phrase ? Catch up here