Fit To Be Tied – Idiom, Origin and Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

“Fit to be tied” is a phrase I know all too well. Growing up in rural Newfoundland, every elder person I knew would utter the expression in a thick Newfie accent anytime they were overwhelmed or upset. I had no idea it was a widely used phrase around the world until recently. So, let’s take a look together at the full meaning behind the expression and see how you can work it into a sentence.

What Does Fit to Be Tied Mean?

Fit To Be Tied Idiom Origin Meaning

If someone is “fit to be tied,” it means they’re extremely angry or upset, even agitated. This vivid phrase tends to conjure up an image of someone so distraught or furious that they might even need to be restrained or tied up to stop them from causing harm to themselves or others.

So, the next time you encounter someone fit to be tied, give them a bit of space to let them cool off! But that’s the more serious context surrounding the phrase. I usually see it used in a lighter sense to exaggerate just how upset or overwhelmed you are.

For example, my grandmother used to spend her Sundays baking and cooking and cleaning, all while half a dozen grandkids ran around under her feet. When my grandfather would come home at the end of the day, he’d ask how her day was or how she was feeling, and she’d reply, “I’m fit to be tied, Arthur!” She wasn’t actually upset or angry, just a little overwhelmed. But it helped emphasize how frustrating it must have been to do those tasks with children running around.

Origin of the Phrase Fit to Be Tied

There are no exact origins of “fit to be tied,” but the phrase originated in the United States sometime during the late 19th or early 20th century and came from the concept of mental patients being so violent that they had to be tied down or tied up with rope or straight jackets.

The word “fit” refers to the state of the person, sort of like saying “ready.” And the word “tied” just means “tied up” or “tied down,” aka restrained in some way.

Synonyms for Fit to Be Tied

Fit to Be Tied Examples in a Sentence

Fit To Be Tied Idiom Origin Meaning 2
  • When Amy discovered her favorite vase had been broken, and no one told her, she was fit to be tied.
  • James was fit to be tied after his important flight was delayed for the third time in one day. Now he was going to miss his own wedding.
  • The customer sounded fit to be tied over the phone because they received the wrong order once again.
  • After my car was wrongfully towed, I stomped through the streets toward the impound, fit to be tied.
  • Our son’s soccer coach was fit to be tied when the referee made a questionable call against his team.

You Learned a New Phrase!

That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say on the phrase “fit to be tied.” It’s a fairly common, everyday expression that’s widely used around the world, and it means you’re in a state of anger or heightened emotions so bad you need to be restrained.

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