Off one’s rocker and off one’s trolley

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Off one’s rocker and off one’s trolley are two idioms that came into use at virtually the same time. An idiom is a figure of speech that 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 expressions off one’s rocker and off one’s trolley, where these expressions may have come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Off one’s rocker and off one’s trolley describe someone who is crazy or mad, someone who behaves oddly or has weird ideas. The terms off one’s rocker and off one’s trolley came into use in the 1890s and are both most probably related to the operation of a trolley. Trolleys operate by running along overhead electric cables that attach to a metal arm on top of the cab. In the early days of mass transportation, these arms would often lurch off the electric cable. Once disconnected from the electric cable, a trolley has no source of power. Many believe that off one’s rocker is somehow related to the rocking chair. However, the fact that both off one’s rocker and off one’s trolley came into use at the same time, there seems to be a strong correlation.


Still, you don’t have to be off your rocker – which at times Jones seems to be – to scoff at Goodell’s reported contract demands of a $50 million salary and use of a private jet for life. (The Virginian-Pilot)

And if you told me Bryant would be a repeat guest on British talk radio critiquing Brexit plans, giving foreign trade advice and getting into the weeds on London and U.K. politics, why I’d be gobsmacked, and wonder if you were off your trolley. (The Clarion Ledger)

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