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What Does "Blow a Fuse" Mean?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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To blow a fuse is to lose one’s temper, typically in a sudden and explosive way. The imagery behind this type of colorful idiom has to do with the use of old-time fuses in an electrical system. When the fuses would cease to exist, the change was often immediate, in that the flow of power to certain devices was interrupted as soon as the fuse would blow. In addition, the fuse itself would often appear to display a sudden and unexpected burst of light as the device would cease to operate.

A number of colorful idioms are used commonly to describe this phenomenon of sudden and rather intense anger. English sayings like hitting the ceiling, having a fit, blowing one’s top, flipping one’s wig, and even flying off the handle can all be used to describe the same chain of events that transpires when someone happens to blow a fuse.

The characteristics that are displayed when an individual should blow a fuse will vary. Some people become extremely loud and verbal, assailing whatever has prompted the sudden anger. Other people begin to shake almost uncontrollably and may speak in quiet measured tones while simultaneously turning red in the face. The physical manifestations do not always convey the degree of anger that the person is experiencing, especially if the fuse blowing takes place in surroundings where sudden outbursts are especially inappropriate.

There are several different things that can happen after an individual blows a fuse. At times, the sudden burst of uncontrollable anger will disappear as quickly as it manifested, once the individual is able to verbalize the nature of the anger. When this occurs, there is usually some amount of sorrow at the outburst, and the individual can usually begin to perceive whatever led to the sudden anger in a more balanced light.

In other instances in which an individual should blow a fuse, the onset of the sudden anger is followed by an extended period of raging. During this period, the angry individual may be unwilling or unable to engage in any type of meaningful discussion about the issue that led to the outburst. When this is the case, allowing the individual to vent his or her anger for a time may be necessary before attempting to look closer at the underlying issue and begin to work on some sort of resolution to the problem. While it is not usually considered appropriate to blow a fuse, the fact is that most people at some time or another experience this sudden wave of anger that cannot be contained. By waiting until the individual calms down to attempt to deal with the problem, the chances of prolonging the anger is kept to a minimum.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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