Blow one’s top, blow one’s stack, blow one’s fuse

  • Blow one’s top, blow one’s stack, and blow one’s fuse are versions of an idiom. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, 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 like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. 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; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying blow one’s top, blow one’s stack or blow one’s fuse, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.


    The idiom blow one’s top means to become explosively angry or to lose one’s temper. The expression came into use in the 1930s and is related to the image of a ship blowing out its smokestack with air to clear debris.

    The idiom blow one’s stack also means to become explosively angry or to lose one’s temper. It came into use in the 1940s and is related to the image of a ship blowing out its smokestack with air to clear debris.


    The idiom blow one’s fuse may mean to become explosively angry or to lose one’s temper; however, it may also mean to become overloaded with responsibilities or woes and subsequently, fall apart. The expression blow one’s fuse is related to the image of a fuse in a fuse box becoming overworked and then finally, breaking.


    “When I hear some people denying the Holocaust and what happened there, I could blow my top.” (Irish Times)

    What you really mean is: I need a little bit of “me time,” or I’m going to blow my stack. (Wall Street Journal)

    The retired marine engineer blames the stress of the situation – which he says has left him “about to blow a fuse” – on his wife Margaret being “carted off to hospital” on Wednesday morning, the Daily Record reported. (The Mirror)

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