I tried to visualize it by means of Ngram plots and also it suggests that the intake began somewbelow about early on 1760s but can"t pin-allude an exact source or timeline.

You are watching: For the life of me meaning

Is tbelow any type of exciting etymology behind this expression?


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OED has an entry for:

for (one"s) life (additionally for dear life, etc.): as if, or in order to, conserve one"s life.

and also adds that:

Also hyperbolically in trivial use: (I cannot) for my life, (I cannot) for the life of me.

The at an early stage develops for (one"s) life and for dear life were used literally and also OED"s earliest example is from c1275:

Þat he ne miȝte for his liue Iso þat guy wiþ hire speke.

John Henry Grafton Grattan · The Owl and the Nightingale.

OED"s citation from 1632 can be the initially idiomatic usage:

For my life I might neuer attaine to any kind of perfect expertise thereof.

William Lithgow · The totall discourse..of..trauayles, from Scotland, to..Europe, Asia, and Affrica


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