To Take a Nutty

Sat Sep 7 00:54:33 UTC 2013

My wife today referred to someone as "taking a nutty," and everyone who heard her burst out laughing.  It made me wonder about this phrase.  She and her sister, both from suburban Boston, use it frequently, but I don't know if I've ever heard it from someone else.  It means to go nuts, in the sense of experiencing an uncontrollable fit of emotion, usually anger.  Her surprised auditors today were in Maryland.

It seems to be a fairly unusual phrase.  Google reports 63 hits for "taking a nutty," 100 hits for "take a nutty," and 92 for "took a nutty."  But these numbers substantially overstate its use, as many of them use "nutty" as an adjective ("took a nutty picture" and so forth).  The online uses with a geographic locus do seem to be from the Boston area.

John Baker

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list