Go into a tailspin and send someone into a tailspin

  • The phrases go into a tailspin and send someone in to a tailspin are idioms dating from the turn of 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. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as break a leg, jump the gun, let the cat out of the bag, cut the mustard, Achilles heel, barking up the wrong tree, piece of cake, a dime a dozen, let sleeping dogs lie,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 figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the expressions go into a tailspin and send someone into a tailspin, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.


    To go into a tailspin means to sink into a state of hysteria or panic, to deteriorate into an anxious mental state. To send someone into a tailspin means to cause someone to sink into a state of hysteria or panic, to deteriorate mentally. These idioms are derived from aviation. In the early years of piloting airplanes, it was easy top go into a tailspin, which is called a spin today. A spin occurs when an airplane rotates on a vertical axis as it drops. Most early pilots did not know how to pull out of a tailspin successfully, so once an airplane was in a tailspin, a crash was virtually inevitable. The word tailspin came into use in the 1910s, and the phrases go into a tailspin and send someone into a tailspin came into figurative use as idioms in the 1920s. Related phrases are goes into a tailspin, went into a tailspin, going into a tailspin, sends someone into a tailspin, sent someone into a tailspin, sending someone into a tailspin.



    If the economy – knocked about by trade wars and government shutdowns – should go into a tailspin, the BIA would like to make sure that any money not spent at the end of the year lapse back into the fund. (The New Hampshire Business Review)

    In 2008 and 2009, the banks and other lenders, overwhelmed with defaults and foreclosures, throttled back so hard on credit that demand collapsed, and housing prices went into a tailspin. (Fortune Magazine)

    When he finally plunged into darkness, Porter said it sent him into a tailspin, and he began drinking heavily to escape and started smoking marijuana. (The Argus Observer)

    Ranallo’s struggles with bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, began as a teenager when his best friend passed away, sending him into a tailspin. (The Orlando Sentinel)


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