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‘Casse-tête’: this French phrase is a conundrum or head-scratcher

We explore when to use this useful expression if a puzzle is ‘breaking your head’

A 'casse-tête' is a problem that is difficult (or even impossible) to solve Pic: Andrey Burmakin

Casse-tête translates as brain teaser, puzzle, or more broadly, challenge.

A literal translation of casse-tête is 'head breaker'.

In everyday French, a casse-tête is a puzzle game that can be played by one or more players.

Read more: Thousands play Wordle-like word game inspired by old French TV show

These include mechanical puzzles such as Rubik’s cubes, number games such as sodoku and even card games such as solitaire.

While such games are played for fun and entertainment, there is also an element of logical or mathematical deduction that can be challenging for the mind too.

The French expression refers to this mental challenge. 

In this sense, a casse-tête is a problem that is difficult (or even impossible) to solve, or a problem that is so annoying it becomes a headache.

It is often used to describe a situation in life where you cannot see a way through or do not know what to do for the best.

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