Expression: To Drive Someone Nuts

Learn Australian English in this Expression episode of Aussie English where I teach you how to use the expression TO DRIVE SOMEONE NUTS like a native

Expression: To Drive Someone Nuts

G’day guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English where today I’m going to be explaining for you the expression “To drive someone nuts”. Let’s go!

So, in today’s episode, as I mentioned, we’re going to be talking about the expression “To drive someone nuts”, “To drive someone nuts”. And it also has other forms, “To drive someone crazy” or “To drive someone bonkers”. So, “drive someone nuts”, “drive someone crazy”, “drive someone bonkers”.

So, let’s just define these words as usual, guys.

“To drive”, in this instance, “To drive” means to cause someone to be something or to become something often talking about emotions.

And, the words “Nuts”, “Bonkers” or “Crazy”, has (have*) two kinds of meanings. Literally, they mean to sort of be mentally deranged. So, if someone’s nuts, if someone’s bonkers, if someone’s crazy, it means that they are mentally deranged, insane, crazy, nuts, bonkers. But, it also has the figurative meaning of to be incredibly angry, irritated or annoyed. So, they’re not literally mentally insane, they’re figuratively angry, annoyed or irritated.

So, for the whole phrase, “To drive someone nuts”, “To drive someone crazy”, “To drive someone bonkers”, the literal meaning would be to cause someone to be or to become insane, mentally unstable. So, you could literally drive someone to the point of insanity, you could drive them nuts, you could drive them crazy, you could drive them bonkers. But then, figuratively it means that you are annoying them a lot, you are really irritating them to the point of getting them to be incredibly angry. So, if they were to sort of snap, if they were to sort of get really angry and burst out and yell at you all of a sudden you could say you drove them nuts, you drove them crazy, you drove them bonkers.

So, let’s go through some examples.

Example 1.

Imagine that you have a really annoying neighbour. A neighbour that’s got a dog, a dog that barks, *ruff ruff ruff*, all night long, all night long every night. And this has happened to me in the past where for five nights I couldn’t get to sleep, I couldn’t have a good night’s sleep because the neighbour’s dog would just keep barking, keep yowling, keep howling, keep scratching at the door to try to get inside the house. It was just constantly making noise and it drove me nuts, it drove me bonkers, it drove me crazy. I was going crazy, I was going nuts, I was going bonkers, because of this stupid dog that would make so much noise at night, it would bark and bark and bark, and I couldn’t sleep. So, the fact that this dog was making all this noise and preventing me from being able to sleep was driving me nuts, it was driving me bonkers, it was driving me crazy, it was driving me insane. So, that’s example number 1.

Example 2.

Example number 2. Imagine that you have a (an*) overbearing mother, an overbearing mother. So, if you guys have seen the show Everyone Loves Raymond you’ll know that he and his family live across the road from his parents and his older brother, and the mother always just shows up. She always comes over, she always opens the door and walks in uninvited, and is just constantly there, and she’s overbearing. And, to be overbearing would just be like to always be in your face, to be constantly just wearing you down and always there, always annoying you, more lightly though if it’s overbearing. So, if you’ve got an overbearing mother it’s kind of like she’s always caring for you, she’s always there and you’re just like, “Oh! Mum, please just stop. Stop being so overbearing.”

So, imagine you’ve got a really annoying mother like that. It may not be that she’s annoying in a bad way, but she’s overbearing, she’s constantly in your face, she’s constantly there, she’s constantly wanting to do things for you, talk to you, see your kids every single day. You could say, “The fact that my mother lives across the road and is always here and is so overbearing is driving me crazy. She drives me crazy. The fact that she’s over at my house everyday drives me nuts. The fact that she is so overbearing drives me bonkers.” So, “She drives me nuts. She drives me crazy. She drives me bonkers.” Although, I love her to bits. I love my mum to be bits, but in this case if she was to do this it would probably drive me crazy pretty quick, (it’d) drive me nuts.

Example 3.

A third example could be that you are trying to have a barbie with your family. So, imagine that they have brought over a whole bunch of meat, they’ve brought over some snags, some sausages to chuck on the barbie, they’ve brought over some lamb chops, some prawns. And “prawns” is what we say in Australia. We don’t call them “shrimps”. Prawns. A shrimp in Australian English is a very small small prawn. So, a big prawn like the crustacean. And imagine you’ve set up the barbie, you’ve got the snags, the lamb chops, the chicken, the prawns, all the veggies, everything on the barbie cooking away, and as you’ve done that you’ve sat around the table on the deck, on the balcony, the wooden structure at the back of your house in your back yard to hang out with your family. Maybe you’ve poured some nice fine wine, you’ve had some beers open, and as soon as you guys have sat down and started to talk the mozzies have shown up, the mozzies have shown up. And what are “The mozzies”? “Mozzies” is an English or an Australian English slang terms for mosquitos. You know, those little insects that suck your blood. They land on you, bite you, and you get really itchy as a result. They make that really annoying noise, “Eeeeeeeeeeeee”, that drive me nuts. So, you’re sitting there waiting for the meat to cook, you’re outside, you’re thinking, “It’s a beautiful summer night. I’m going to enjoy some nice beers, some drinks with my folks, my family, my friends”, and then the mozzies show up and they’re just everywhere. There’s mostquitos all over the place. They’re landing all over you, the mozzies are biting you, you’re all itching. It’s so unpleasant that obviously you can’t just keep sitting outside because of the mozzies, because they’re everywhere, and you are going to be forced inside, you could just say, “The mozzies are driving me nuts, they’re driving me insane, they’re driving me crazy, they’re driving me bonkers. The effing mozzies! The fricken mozzies! They’re driving us nuts!”. And you could say this in the figurative sense of “They’re making me angry, they’re making me annoyed, they’re making me really frustrated and irritated.” That would be the figurative sense of being driven nuts, of being driven crazy, of being driven insane or bonkers. But then also, if you were say locked in a room with mosquitos and you could never sleep and they were always biting you, every time you tried to close your eyes you heard that annoying “Eeeeeee” noise and you literally did go insane that would be the literal sense of being driven nuts, crazy, bonkers, insane by the mosquitos. So, that would be, yeah, you literally went crazy if you were forced to endure that for a long time.

So, they’re the examples, guys. I hope you understand now how to use the phrase “To drive someone nuts” or “To be driven nuts by something” as well as the synonyms “To drive someone crazy”, “To be driven crazy”, “To drive someone bonkers”, “To be driven bonkers” or “To drive someone insane” or “To be driven insane by something”.

So, as usual we’ll go through a substitution exercise here, guys. And I’ve set this example up to imagine that you are at the barbecue with all these mozzies. So, there’s all these mozzies there driving you bonkers, driving you nuts, driving you crazy, and we’re going to use some swear words in this one just to change it up so that you can practice emphasising the fact that you are really really being driven crazy, nuts or bonkers.

So, we’re going to substitute the word “Nuts” in for “Crazy”, again, so you can associate these words with meaning the same thing. And we’re going to insert the word “Fucking” at the start. So, the sentence is going to be “These fucking mozzies are driving me crazy!”, and then I’ll get you to substitute in “Nuts” for “Crazy”, and the sentence will become “These fucking mozzies are driving me nuts!”. And, we’ll conjugate through the different pronouns, me, you, him, her, us and them.

So, just to discuss the swearing here, guys, it is the kind of thing that you would do in a very informal situation where you knew the people incredibly well. And it’s not so much that you are insulting a person when you say this out loud, but because you are using this language it cane be offensive if the person is incredibly proper or it is a formal situation. So, it is the kind of thing that I would use maybe just around my family if they were ok with swearing, around friends who swear a lot or are ok with swearing, and/or if I was incredibly incredibly frustrated by these mosquitos. So, I’m swearing about the mosquitos. If I say, “These fucking mozzies” it’s the mosquitos that I am directly kind of swearing at or about, it’s not a person. So, anyway, that’s a bit of context to how the swearing is being used in this phrase.

Let’s go!

Substitution exercise:

1. These fucking mozzies are driving me crazy.


2. These fucking mozzies are driving you crazy.


3. These fucking mozzies are driving him crazy.


4. These fucking mozzies are driving her crazy.


5. These fucking mozzies are driving us crazy.


6. These fucking mozzies are driving them crazy.


All answers below in the Answers section.


So, I guess, a few more things to cover here too about the swearing, guys. You’ll notice there that when you go back over it that I really really emphasise the first syllable of “FUCKing”, like I really go “Ffff” and then let it just “-UCKing” come out. So, it’s “FUCKing”. You’ll hear that quite a lot in English. Whenever someone swears in a sentence they usually put the emphasis on the swear word, and obviously in this case the first syllable of the swear word. So, I say “These FUCKing mozzies are driving me nuts”. I wouldn’t say, “These fucking MOZZies are driving me nuts” or “These fucking mozzies are driving ME nuts”. It’s “These FUCKing mozzies are driving me nuts.”

One thing to mention here too, I would probably avoid listening to this on loudspeaker around other people. So, I would definitely make sure that this is in your ears. It’s probably a bit too late to say that now at the end of the podcast, but if you listen to this again make sure that the headphones are in your ears and that other people can’t hear this as people can be offended when they overhear swearing that may not even be necessarily directed at them or have anything to do with them, but if they overhear swearing people sometimes can be offended. So, that’s just one more thing to be aware of. And it’s the same kind of thing if you were to be having a conversation with someone even if you have an informal relationship with that person, they’re your best friend, you swear all the time, if you were say on a bus or on a train or on a tram or in public and there were other people around, even if you’re used to swearing with that person, at least for me, that is when I would probably tone down the kind of language I would use in the conversation with them because other people can hear the conversation and may not necessarily want to hear me saying “Fucking” or other swear words like that.

So, again, that’s just one more thing to be aware of. Go over this exercise and listen out for where I emphasise the sentence, and I say it on the “FUCK-“ at the start of “FUCKing”. And just be cautious of using this in public and using this in conversations. I always say the rule, “If in doubt, go without”. Don’t swear, you don’t need to swear, but if you hear someone using it in kind of a private situation with you where it’s just the two of you speaking and they use a swear word then obviously it’s ok to use the same swear word or the same kind of language in the same context as that person.

And yeah, I hope you don’t mind me teaching you how to swear like this guys. I do think that it is an important part of English, because whether or not you at the end of the day decide to use these swear words you are going to hear them whether it’s on TV, at the cinemas, whether it’s when you overhear other people’s conversations or whether it’s when you have conversations with other natives themselves, swearing in English is definitely something that is incredibly common and it just adds a bit of flavour to your language when you learn how to do it, and you can’t learn how to do it without actively thinking about it, talking about it, and then practicing it.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, guys, and I’ll see you in the next one. Peace out. All the best!

Check out the other recent Aussie English Expression episodes below:

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