fly off the handle


fly off the handle


  • To lose one’s temper and get angry for seemingly no reason (does not usually refer to situations that would warrant an emotional response).
  • For example: When your partner isn’t pleased with the meal you made, they might “fly off the handle” and say something out of anger without thinking first.
  • When someone flies off the handle, they lose their temper and become angry in a situation that might not seem warranted. The expression can also be used figuratively to describe people who have a sudden change of mood or personality from being in a normal state of mind or behaving normally to becoming angry or irrational.

Example Sentences

  1. I was so happy to find a parking spot and get out of the store when Jim came flying off the handle and yelled at me in front of everyone in line.
  2. That guy runs a two-man bike repair shop and always flies off the handle when customers ask him for help fixing their bikes.
  3. I don’t know what got into that guy, but he just flew off the handle when we showed him his old car would have to be junked before he could get his new car.
  4. Bob is patient and careful, not the type to fly off the handle in a moment of frustration.
  5. David is known to fly off the handle and do irrational things.
  6. William has quite a temper and could fly off the handle at the slightest thing.


The phrase was originated in America, and it alludes to a loose axe-head, flies off from its handle swiftly while hitting on the wood.

One other theory suggests that the phrase fly off the handle is thought to originate from examples of animals (usually bulls) that would startle so much as to bolt away at random. This was thought to happen most often when the animals were being herded on their way to slaughter.

The phrase was first found in print in The Attaché; or, Sam Slick in England by Thomas C. Haliburton in 1843.

“He flies right off the handle for nothing.”

Share your opinions1 Opinion

Deut. 19:5 may be the origin of the saying “Flew off the handle.”
One flying off the handle can be very destructive. As was the axe handle in the scripture.

‒ Joyce Dupuis July 28, 2021

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