Lose one’s marbles

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Lose one’s marbles is an idiom that dates to the mid-1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the term to lose one’s marbles, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To lose one’s marbles means to go insane, to take leave on one’s wits, to lose one’s mind. The term lose one’s marbles has undergone an evolution in meaning. At one time, to lose one’s marbles meant to become angry. The idiom to lose one’s marbles has a rather convoluted origin. At one time, marbles was a slang term for furniture, a misrepresentation of the French word for furniture, meubles. At the same time, the human mind was envisioned as a place full of unused clutter, including “mind-furniture”. The two became conflated. Related phrases are loses one’s marbles, lost one’s marbles, losing one’s marbles.


Now before you spit your coffee back into your cup and proclaim your local outdoor writer has lost his marbles, hear me out. (The Cherokeean Herald)

But in the election campaign, and certainly since he assumed the Oval Office, Trump has lost his marbles on the subject of guns, even railing against government-mandated gun-free zones in places such as schools, churches and military bases. (The Toronto Star)

“After all these years of feeling as though I’m losing my marbles, perhaps I can actually channel spirits.” (The Daily Mail)

I was scrolling through Spotify in class the other day, looking for some music to cue up for my walk back to the dorms, when I almost lost my marbles. (The Badger Herald)