Know your English Education

Stay indoors without going stir-crazy

“I don’t believe it! Are you going for an early morning walk?”

“Yes. It’s been three weeks since I stepped out. I was going absolutely stir-crazy.”

“Stir-crazy? Does it mean that you were going slightly mad or getting a little angry?”

“It could be either. It’s the feeling of restlessness or depression that you get because of prolonged confinement.”

“Something like what people are experiencing now because of the virus?”

“That’s right. Many of us have been compelled to stay indoors for nearly two months. Initially, we enjoyed the experience. But, after a while, we started to get restless. Some of us got irritated. The non-stop rain forced the children to stay indoors. After two days, some of them were going stir-crazy.”

“How about this example? After staying with my grandfather in the village for just a day, I went stir-crazy. No cell phone, no television, no....”

Learning to cope

“I get the picture. Well, if the problem with COVID-19 continues, we’ll need to learn how to cope with people going stir-crazy.”

“That’s not something I’m looking forward to. By the way, shouldn’t it be ‘cope up with’? We’ll need to learn how to cope up with people going stir-crazy.”

“No. The word ‘cope’ is followed by ‘with’ and not ‘up’. Hemant had a nervous breakdown because he wasn’t able to cope with the pressure his boss was putting on him.”

“When my cousins come down from the States, they have a hard time coping with the noise and the traffic.”

“That’s a good example. The new vice chancellor is having a difficult time coping with the students.”

“That’s to be expected, I guess. Tell me, why is it called ‘stir-crazy’ and not...?”

“That’s because the expression was first used by prisoners. One of the slang terms for prison was ‘stir’.”

“I see. So, the restlessness that the expression refers to is the restlessness that inmates feel when they’re locked up. Tell me, is there another expression which has more or less the same meaning as stir-crazy?”

“Cabin fever has more or less the same meaning. It was initially used to refer to the restlessness that one felt because of confinement — especially, during winter. Nowadays, it’s used in all contexts.”

“How about this example? After staying at home for six weeks, Aparna started to develop cabin fever.”

“Good example. Children have a difficult time coping with cabin fever.”

“Tell me, why is it called ‘cabin fever’?”

“Will tell you some other time. Right now, I need to go for my walk.”


The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise. Peter O’Toole

The writer teaches at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad.

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 11:32:44 AM |

Next Story