Blow a fuse and blow a gasket

The idioms blow a fuse and blow a gasket came into popular use in the twentieth century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, on the ball, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idioms blow a fuse and blow a gasket, where these phrases came from, and some examples of their use in sentences.

To blow a fuse means to become very angry, to explode with rage, to lose control of one’s emotions. Related phrases are blows a fuse, blew a fuse, has blown a fuse, blowing a fuse. The expression blow a fuse came into use in the early twentieth century and is related to the use of electricity in the average home. A fuse protects an electrical item from a sudden surge of electricity that may start a fire. The fuse contains a piece of metal that will melt at a certain temperature, breaking the circuit. Blow a fuse may be used literally or figuratively, as an idiom.

To blow a gasket also means to become very angry, to explode with rage, to lose control of one’s emotions. Related phrases are blows a gasket, blew a gasket, has blown a gasket, blowing a gasket. The expression blow a gasket came into use in the early 1940s, when automobiles with internal combustion engines became common. Gaskets are usually made of rubber and seal the pressure in the engine. If a gasket degrades, it will not hold the pressure and the cap may blow. Blow a gasket may be used literally or figuratively, as an idiom.


It would have ended there, but James’ use of the word “guys” caused another delegate to blow a fuse. (The Newnan Times Herald)

But he blew a fuse when he learned that 12 of the 20 players who were out of contract this summer had been offered new deals. (The Mirror)

So I’m ready to accept our robot overlords behind the plate and when I disagree with a robot umpire’s call at a crucial moment, I’ll try not to blow a gasket. (The Desert Sun)

The camera pans over still pictures of Larry David as Bernie Sanders, of Jeb Bush and his Macbook Pro Baby, of Hillary Clinton nae nae-ing, of an orange-faced man about to blow a gasket. (Esquire Magazine)

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