Driving Me Nuts (Phrase) – Meaning and Origin


To be greatly frustrated or annoyed. The word “nuts” is sometimes replaced by the words crazy, bonkers, bananas, insane, or up the wall. However, the meaning remains unchanged.

When people are annoyed to the point where they can no longer tolerate anymore, they might use this common idiom to describe their frustration.

Synonyms: driving someone up the wall, to ruffle someone’s feathers

Angry man, driving me nuts.
This man was driven up the wall. In other words, he’s greatly annoyed.

Origin Of ‘Driving Me Nuts’

According to the website Word-Detective, by the mid to late-1800s, the word “nut” was slang¬†to mean a person’s head. Not long after, it looks like it also acquired the meaning of someone¬†who was not acting right in the head, e.g., a person acting strange or crazy might be described as “nuts” or being “off their nut.”

The earliest example I could find of this phrase in print is from the newspaper Indiana Daily Times, printed in 1921. To give some context for the following quote, under the subheading “Women Are More Careful Than Men in Driving Car,” opinions were given about the differences between men and women drivers. When one law enforcer was asked about women drivers, the newspaper reads:

“He threw up his hands and backed away. ‘They drive me nuts,’ he groaned.”

Example Sentences:

Here are examples of this idiom used in sentences:

  • My neighbor is blaring loud music and it’s really driving me nuts. Maybe I should go tell them to stop.
  • Emily is driving herself nuts over the job interview she has tomorrow, and she’s having trouble sleeping from the anxiety.

Note: The origins for many common phrases and sayings are not known. Generally, then, what you will see on the page is a theory about how a phrase may have originated. If you don’t see any theories listed, then I will usually try to include the oldest known quote of the expression being used.

Most of the time, these quotes will come from books, poems, or newspapers. These quotes indicate how far back in time an expression goes. So, for instance, if a certain expression was written in a book from 1645 and it’s quoted, then the saying is at least that old.

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