‘Brain up’ revisited

Further to my recent entry, one of the comments on language hat’s site points out that the term ‘brain up’ was used in a Guardian article of August 2002, which I quote:

bq. Mr Saumarez Smith, a former academic, believes the answer is not to dumb down, “as the Department for Culture Media and Sport would sometimes seem to like us to do”, but to “brain up”.

Charles Saumarez Smith is the new director of the National Gallery. I found a brief biography (in Google’s cache) but with no suspicion indications, for example of him being German.

I am ashamed to say I believed the letter to the FAZ which had done an Internet search. In fact, a Google search brings more evidence that the term ‘brain up’ does exist. Not much support, but a ‘margaret’ (not me, however) contributes to the British Council word exchange:

bq. Word::brain up
Meaning::to bring some intelligence to a conversation, activity or presentation
Type of word::
Example::If this chat show host doesn’t brain up, I’m switching channel

‘Switching channel’ in the singular sounds a bit foreign.

Here’s another Guardian example, from the Education Guardian in January 2004:

bq. The message is that we have to brain up or fall behind, and that means two things.

Well, I shall e interest to hear how the FAZ discussion continues. It looks to me as if the word exists but is very new and may not even take hold. But some of the blame should be withdrawn. If an SPD education minister can’t trust the Guardian education section, who can she trust?

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