Hi all,
recently I have come across this sentence
"I just bumped into him on the street and couldn't remember his name for the life of me."
but I still can't figure out what "for the life of me" means.
does it mean I had to remeber his name to save my life?

Your help would be much much appreciated

Thank you!!
New Member14
It means that you couldn't remember his name although you were trying very hard.

LS
New Member32
Hello!Emotion: smile

It is an idiom, isn't it? ..how can it be used?

Would ‘I tried for the life of me and finally managed what I wanted’ be correct?

Thanks in advance!
Senior Member3,057
Trusted Users: Trusted users are allowed to use additional capabilities of the site such as private messaging to all users and various other advanced features. You cannot join this role unless you are promoted by an administrator.
It is indeed Emotion: smile – usually, you only use it with the phrase "I couldn't/can't do X", e.g. "I couldn't for the life of me see what the problem was", "I couldn't for the life of me remember his name", "I can't for the life of me think of another example".
Veteran Member12,806
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
Thank you so much MrP!Emotion: smile

So, that idiom, somehow introduces a subordinate sentence, right? (Subordinate sentence? Is it said this way?)
Trusted Users: Trusted users are allowed to use additional capabilities of the site such as private messaging to all users and various other advanced features. You cannot join this role unless you are promoted by an administrator.
Well, on reflection, you could also use it as a fragment, e.g.

1. "So can you guess what this does?" "Not for the life of me, no."

And it doesn't need to introduce a clause, e.g.

2. I can't for the life of me remember his name.

Really, the structure is just:

3. I can't/couldn't (for the life of me) do X.

(So it acts as an adverbial intensifier, so to speak.)
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
Thank you for the explanation, MrP! Emotion: smile

(A new idiom, great!)
Trusted Users: Trusted users are allowed to use additional capabilities of the site such as private messaging to all users and various other advanced features. You cannot join this role unless you are promoted by an administrator.
MrPedanticWell, on reflection, you could also use it as a fragment, e.g.

1. "So can you guess what this does?" "Not for the life of me, no."

And it doesn't need to introduce a clause, e.g.

2. I can't for the life of me remember his name.

Really, the structure is just:

3. I can't/couldn't (for the life of me) do X.

(So it acts as an adverbial intensifier, so to speak.)
Now clear!! thanks a lot for your nice and clear explanations
Oh I forgot to thank Lone swordsman. Thank you Lone Swordsman
Live chat
Registered users can join here