What does the idiom "drive sb up the wall" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. drive sb up the wall meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "drive sb up the wall"


The idiom “drive sb up the wall” is used to describe a situation where someone is frustrated and exasperated by another person to the point where they become infuriated and often, desperate. It is a common phrase used to express disturbance, annoyance, and/or exasperation with someone's actions. It reflects a sense of helplessness and a feeling of being "at the end of one’s rope.”


The phrase has been in use since the mid-19th century in the United States, although its origin is somewhat obscure. The phrase may be a reference to the annoying feeling of a bug crawling up someone’s wall. However, the phrase may also be rooted in the idea of the walls of one’s home, or walls in some other enclosed space being the only barrier between people and their frustrations, which could drive them to the point of anger and desperation. In either case, the phrase rose in popularity during the 20th century, and remains a common expression today.


The phrase is commonly used to express frustration and disapproval of someone’s behaviour. It is often used in the present tense. For example, “He is driving me up the wall with his constant complaining” or “Her constant complaining drives me up the wall”. It is also sometimes used in a past tense, for example, “He drove me up the wall yesterday” or “She drove me up the wall over the weekend”.

Example Sentences

  • His loud music drives me up the wall.
  • My boss is always changing her mind and it drives me up the wall.
  • I can't believe he keeps asking the same questions; it's driving me up the wall.
  • I'm sure she's trying to be helpful, but it's driving me up the wall.

The meanings of the words in the "drive sb up the wall" idiom

The power of idioms transcends languages!

"Putting the cart before the horse" is an English idiom that means doing things in the wrong order. In Russian, the similar idiom is "Кладёт колесо впереди лошади," which translates to "Putting the cart before the horse." This idiom emphasizes the idea that doing things in the wrong order can lead to confusion and problems down the line.


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