What are some phrases that can be used to express that it's hard to think because you're very tired. In English, saying your 'brain is fried' can be due to external factors such as taking drugs, but I'm talking very simply about how to say you're tired and that it's become hard to think clearly and/or at a normal pace.

  • 1
    "я спекся" or simply "голова не работает"
    – ren
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 11:37
  • Мозги перегрелись
    – Anixx
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 1:46
  • You could use "в голове - каша", although it's more toward "I'm confused". @ren's "я спёкся" works well too. Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 14:58
  • What about 'меня клинит?' @VictorBazarov Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 7:00
  • 1
    Sure, that also means "unable to think". A slightly different "reason", I suppose (more like "wrench in the works"). Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 11:38

3 Answers 3


I'd say "У меня мозги кипят" (i.e. "my brain is boiling"). This could also refer to an external factor such as extreme heat, but usually means "I'm stuck", "I'm tired of thinking" etc.

BTW, this probably comes from driving slang: if the engine overheats and starts smoking, then one says "Мотор закипел".

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    As a bilingual Russian/English speaker, I disagree. "My brain is fried" indicates that you are done thinking/too tired to think. "У меня мозги кипят" ("my brain is on boil") is too close to a common Russian expression of "работа кипит" ("work is on boil") which means "work is in full swing" and brings up a mental image of a rolling boil of water - i.e. peak activity. I would argue that "У меня мозги кипят", to a Russian speaker, would indicate that your brain is working in overdrive, which is quite the opposite of "my brain is fried".
    – RADA
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 15:11
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    @RADA "Внутри всё кипит" = "To be enraged", "Работа кипит" = "The work goes well", "Мозги кипят" = "I'm stuck". These are all different. "Мозги кипят" is rather a modern slang which differs from the older idioms.
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 15:31
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    Interesting. "Голова не варит" ("Head's not boiling"?) means about the same, while literally it's more like the opposite.
    – D-side
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 8:23
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    @D-side, haha, that's true and really funny, I didn't realize it before!)) The thing is, that in English there is the same word "to boil" for Russian "кипеть" (for example, "Water boils at 100 degrees Centigrade.") and "варить" (which means "to cook by boiling", for example, "to boil soup"). "Мозги кипят" means "I was thinking extensively during long time, that's why now my brain is overheated, and can't think anymore". And "голова не варит" (i.e. doesn't produce, or "cook", any useful thoughts), just means "I can't think now", no matter for what reason.
    – Lara
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 15:05

One of the first Russian expressions I learned was “мой мозг кипит,” meaning “my brain is boiling.” A native Russian speaker who was teaching me Russian told me this was equivalent to saying “my brain is fried.”


"Уже голова не работает" — note "уже" (already). It suggests that you've been thinking pretty hard and just can't go on.

"Уже башка не варит" — pretty much the same, but rather informal. I would'nt say that to my boss, but to a close colleague.

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