Put On Your Thinking Cap

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Meaning of Idiom 'Put On Your Thinking Cap'

To put on your thinking cap means to apply yourself to considering a problem and finding a solution to it. When we tell someone to 'put on their thinking cap' we are asking them to work to solve a problem.

Usage

"Okay, folks, let's put on our thinking caps and get this problem solved."

"Look, Craig," said McMasters, we only have one day to come up with a proposal, I need you to put on your thinking cap."

Thinking cap can also be used in various standalone ways. For example, when one needs to think he might say "where's my thinking cap?"

Origin

A long out of use variant of this idiom is considering cap which was in use as early as the 17th century, such as in Robert Armin's A Nest of Ninnies (1608):

"A poxe of lazy cobler! sayes hee; my boots! shall I forfeit a bond for your pleasure? The cobler puts off his considering cap…."

The considering cap was also part of a party game called Priest of the Parish, a call and response game which begins with one person, the "gossiper" saying:

"The priest of the parish has lost his considering cap — some say this, and some say that, but I say my man Jack!"

Both considering cap and thinking cap seemed to have been used during the 1800's, at least in print, but thinking cap has long been the only variant in use. Just how this idiomatic expression came about is unknown, but it is quite unlikely that it derives from an actual cap.

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