If a person is making a mountain out of a molehill, it means they are exaggerating. In other words, they are taking a minor issue and turning it into a bigger problem than it really is.
The Origin Of ‘Making a Mountain Out of a Molehill’
The origin of the saying “making a mountain out of a molehill” is unclear, but what is known is that it’s over 350 years old. For instance, the expression is seen in a lexicon book by James Howell from the year 1660. This book contains many proverbs from different languages and there’s a part from it that reads:
“Making mountains of molehill.”
Of note, Wikipedia states that this saying was used in a book published in 1548 called “The first tome or volume of the Paraphrase of Erasmus vpon the newe testamente” translated in part by Nicholas Udall:
The Sophistes of Grece coulde through their copiousness make an Elephant of a flye, and a mountaine of a mollehill.
I couldn’t find the above mentioned quote in the book, but I might have missed it. If the expression was indeed used in that year, that means the phrase is at least over 470 years old!
This phrase highlights how people overreact sometimes. Basically, the idea is that a person is taking a small issue (represented by the molehill in the idiom) and turning it into a bigger issue (represented by the mountain). For example, if someone dropped their ice-cream cone on the ground, while annoying, it’s not that big of deal. However, if they started getting super angry over it and throwing a fit, well, then they are making a mountain out of a molehill, as the saying goes.
- Deacon wanted to make stuffed green peppers, but he was missing some of the necessary ingredients. Once he realized, he became frustrated and pouty, making a mountain out of a molehill.’
- My cooking isn’t that bad, you’re exaggerating.