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in a brown study

lost in one’s own thoughts


in a brown study = in Gedanken versunken; eine Stimmung, in der man sehr in seine eigenen Gedanken vertieft ist und nichts anderes beachtet



“She was IN A BROWN STUDY and did not notice my entrance.”

YouTube — Doubtnut (4th January 2023)

Did you

a brown study

- a mood in which you are very involved in your own thoughts and not paying attention to anything else

- a mood of deep absorption or thoughtfulness; reverie

Cambridge Dictionary / Collins Dictionary


First cited in the 16th century (specifically in a book called Dice-Play, by Gerolamo Cardano 1501-1576), the expression “brown study” described a state of intense, sometimes melancholy reverie.

Dr. Watson describes “falling into a brown study” in the course of “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”.

Back in the day, brown was a colour associated with sadness, used the way we do blue today—to suggest melancholy.

and to avoid slipping into brown-study mode

- The Rubber Band Technique: Wear a rubber band around your wrist, and every time you catch yourself losing focus or getting distracted, gently snap the rubber band against your skin. The slight pain will serve as a reminder to bring your attention back to the task at hand. Over time, your brain will associate losing focus with discomfort and may improve your ability to concentrate.

- The “pomodoro” technique with a twist: The Pomodoro Technique involves breaking work into 25-minute intervals, called “pomodoros”, followed by a short break. To add an unconventional twist, try doing a brief, unusual activity during the break, like solving a Rubik’s cube or juggling. This can provide a mental break from the task at hand and keep your brain engaged, ultimately helping to maintain focus when returning to the main task.

- Odd Scent Association: Choose an unusual scent, like a specific essential oil or perfume, and use it exclusively while working on your tasks. Your brain will begin to associate the smell with concentration and focus. When you need a boost of focus, simply take a whiff of the scent to trigger your brain to pay attention to the task at hand. Just make sure it’s a scent you don’t encounter too often, so it remains a unique sensory cue.

*If you have a weird way to stay concentrated, do drop me a line - I’m collecting concentration tips for a future blog post which I’ll happily share with you :-) (Paul)


- to be lost in thought

absent, absorbed, absent-minded, airheaded, a million miles away, daydreaming, distant, distracted, dreaming, engrossed, faraway, head in the clouds, heedless, IN A BROWN STUDY, inattentive, lost (in thought), miles away, musing, no-one home, oblivious, out to lunch, pensive, pipe dreaming, preoccupied, remote, scatterbrained, scatty, space cadet, spacey, thoughtful, unheeding, unaware (of events), with your head in the clouds, wool-gathering

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“I tried to get his attention, but he was IN A BROWN STUDY, gazing out of the window at the falling leaves.”

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