What does the idiom "fly off the handle" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does fly off the handle mean? In what situations is fly off the handle used?

Meaning of "fly off the handle"

Meaning

The phrase “fly off the handle” is an English idiom used to refer to a sudden and exaggerated outburst of anger. It is also used to describe someone who is prone to outbursts and is often used in phrases such as “he just flew off the handle when I mentioned X.”

Etymology

The origin of the phrase “fly off the handle” is unknown, but it is believed to be related to the head of an axe or hatchet, which is known as a “handle.” The phrase itself has been used since the 1800s, although its exact origin is unknown. It could also be an alteration of the phrase “fly out of the handle”, which is also an old phrase with a similar meaning.

Usage

The phrase “fly off the handle” is often used in everyday language, typically in a joking manner to describe someone who loses their temper suddenly. It can also be used to describe someone who is particularly hot-tempered and prone to outbursts. In some cases, it is also used in a serious manner to describe a person who has a serious problem with anger management.

Example Sentences

  • He always flies off the handle when someone disagrees with him.
  • I can't believe she just flew off the handle like that.
  • She had a tendency to fly off the handle whenever things didn't go her way.

The meanings of the words in the "fly off the handle" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.

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