It's common in English to say e.g.:

I've done so much work today, my brain has switched off.

No, I can speak Chinese. She doesn't understand me because she has switched her ears off and is not listening.

It metaphorically refers to a body part which is temporarily not functioning: in the first example above, the brain switches itself off (like a computer crashing), and in the second example, the person switches their own ears off (they could listen, but have switched their ears off). So sometimes when I'm talking with my teacher, I attempt to say something similar. Perhaps I'd say:

我的脑子关掉了。 ("My brain has switched off.")
她的听觉器官关闭了。 ("Her hearing organs have switched off.")

But I've never succeeded... I always have to provide a long explanation which defeats the point, and I don't feel my teacher has ever understood my explanations either. I'm getting the feeling I'm trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Question: What is a snappy way to express e.g. "my brain has switched off" that is familiar to native Chinese ears?

5 Answers 5


I'd probably say something like 我脑袋不转了(my brain doesn't rotate anymore). This is a common analogy for a brain: a gear.

  • I find 转 tricky because it's a 多音字. I think it's zhuan3 here but I may be wrong... Which is it? Dec 8, 2020 at 10:13
  • 1
    It's zhuan4. This is the pronunciation when it means the verb "rotate". @goPlayerJuggler
    – Sweeper
    Dec 8, 2020 at 11:43

The best phrase that I can think of and can be understood by most Chinese is “我脑子短路了” (my brain was short-circuited)

"my brain has switched off" is a very colloquial speech. People from different cities have different ways to say it. In my hometown, I would say "脑子抽了一下"(my brain spasmed for a second), but not all Chinese understand what it means.


In stead of speaking “switch off”, Chinese goes to a different direction. An expression in Chinese with similar meaning could be 今天做了太多工作。我的头都大了!

  • 1
    Does this metaphor/phrasing (ie. 头都大了) have the connotation of the head being "stuffed up," so to speak, and because of that, no longer able to function properly? Dec 8, 2020 at 21:51
  • 1
    I think you’re right! Dec 9, 2020 at 0:19

Hi I'm a Chinese working in a US company.

I've done so much work today, my brain has switched off.

You may say





They are all usually heard in a daily life. Or, if you are talking with a young people, you can also say: 我的脑子宕(it's a transliteration from English 'Down' )掉了


My brain has switched off.

  • 1
    Thanks: should it be 停止 and not 停着?
    – Becky 李蓓
    Dec 11, 2020 at 11:21
  • 1
    Yes, sorry about that. 止 not 着!Too much Python lately, my brain has switched off!
    – Pedroski
    Dec 11, 2020 at 11:57

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