What does the idiom "brainwave" mean?

The phrase brainwave is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of brainwave.

Meaning of "brainwave"


The phrase “brainwave” is used in English to describe a sudden inspiration or thought, usually related to problem-solving or finding a creative solution. It is often thought of as an “ah-ha” moment in which the sudden insight seems to appear out of nowhere.


The phrase “brainwave” first appeared in the English language in the late 1800s. It may have derived from the fact that scientists of the time were studying the electrical activity of the brain and had established that there were measurable frequencies associated with brain activity. Thus, the phrase “brainwave” came to mean a sudden insight or thought.


The phrase “brainwave” is used both informally and formally in English. It can be used to describe the sudden realization of the solution to a difficult problem, such as an unexpected yet insightful idea. It can also be used to describe a moment of sudden inspiration, such as when a writer comes up with a brilliant new story idea. In addition, the phrase can be used more generally to refer to a moment of sudden insight or thought.

Example Sentences

  • After hours of debating, we finally had a brainwave and came up with the perfect solution to our problem.
  • I was stuck on how to design the website until the brainwave hit me and I suddenly knew the perfect design.
  • I couldn’t think of anything new to write until a brainwave gave me a brilliant idea.
  • My professor was amazed when I had a brainwave and put together the solution to the problem in a matter of minutes.

The meanings of the words in the "brainwave" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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