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Blowing Your Top

For this week’s blog I am bringing back one that was popular a couple of years ago. So, this one is from the archives (originally posted May 3, 2016):

The idiom “to blow your top” has been defined in various ways, such as “to become enraged; lose one’s temper”. One other source says this about the expression:

“‘Blow your top’ is a colorful idiomatic expression that is used to indicate that an individual is extremely upset and is about to or has already lost his or her temper. The imagery connected with losing the temper focuses on the vision of the top of someone’s head actually coming off, due to the buildup of the internal pressure caused by the anger. Typically, the term is reserved for use when a particular event or subject inspires very deep negative feelings, making it more difficult to remain composed and logical in terms of how the situation is approached.

Unlike some other idioms that are used in present tense only, it is not unusual for “blow your top” to be also used about something that may happen in the very near future. For example, someone may attempt to calm someone down who is obviously about to lose his or her temper by encouraging them to step away before ‘you blow your top.’ In this use of the saying, the idea is to prevent what would likely be a very negative event from taking place by urging some temporary distance from the issue that is causing so much distress.”

This week’s blog explores the phrase “blowing your top” by inviting you to answer the reflective questions if you tend to “blow your top” or would use this idiom to describe someone you have observed in a conflict with you.

  • When you consider a situation in which it could be said you “blew your top”, what was happening to incite you?
  • How might you describe your reaction that might be described as “blowing your top”?
  • What did that feel like to you (your answer to the previous question)?
  • How did the other person react to you?
  • How would she or he describe you when you “blew your top”?
  • When your top blew off, what did you lose? What stayed on?
  • When you have been on the receiving end of someone blowing their top, what resulted in that, from what you know or observed? How did you experience the other person “blowing her or his top”?
  • What blew off? What stayed on?
  • What makes the imagery in the expression “blow your top” especially relevant to what happened for you? What makes it especially relevant to what happened to the other person in the situation you experienced or observed?
  • What has occurred to you about the idiom “blow your top” that you hadn’t considered before you answered these questions?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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