Bursting at the seams


Senior Member
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep. Because my dreams are bursting at the seams.
(From 'Fireflies' lyrics by Owl city.)
What does "burst at the seams" mean ? And what does "My dreams are bursting at the seams" mean?

thank you very much;)
  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    In a literal sense, something made of fabric is bursting at the seams when it's holding more than it's designed for.
    If you put 11 pounds of sand into a 10-pound sandbag, then the bag's seams will be strained by the excess.

    The song's author appears to be saying that he enjoys sleeping because he has a lot of dreams, perhaps more than his head can hold.


    Senior Member
    Hi everyone.
    Does this idiom also mean "very happy"?

    You should've seen her, she was bursting at the seams, she was very happy.

    The context is from "Effortless English podcast"


    Senior Member
    Canadian English

    That should be fine. Bursting at the seams just means full/overflowing/about to burst beyond its limitations. You could literally be bursting at the seams because your pants are way too small for your waistline, or you could be bursting at the seams because you're overfilled with a strong emotion.


    Senior Member
    USA, English
    burst at the seams

    • to be filled up to the brim
    • to be handling something which is beyond the normal capacity
    Source: theidioms.com

    The etymology will help in remembering this phrase:

    The origination is speculated to be from the 17th century when women wore corsets. The women who chose not to would be subjected to banter about the seams of their dresses.

    Source: theidioms.com
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