Driving Me Nuts (Phrase) – Meaning and Origin


The phrase drive me nuts means that you are 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.

Example: My neighbor is blaring loud music and it’s driving me insane; maybe I should tell them to quiet down.

Note: When a person is irritated and their patience is wearing thin, they might use this common idiom to describe the way they’re feeling.

Synonyms: driving me up the wall, ruffle my feathers

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

The 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 the word also acquired the meaning of someone who wasn’t 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.”

So in summary, this phrase is at least 100 years old.

Example Sentences:

Here are examples of this idiom in sentences:

  • My phone keeps glitching out and it’s starting to drive me nuts; so I think it’s time I get a new one.
  • The anxiety from this upcoming job interview is driving me crazy; the stress has also affected my sleep.

Note: The exact origin of many common phrases and sayings are unknown. That is, sometimes it is impossible to figure out who coined a certain phrase or how it became an idiom in the first place. Still though, the oldest quote of the expression being used should be listed on the page. These quotes indicate how far back in time an expression goes. So, for instance, if an expression was written in a book from 1645 and it’s quoted on here, then that means the saying is at least that old.