Freak out/Flip out


Senior Member
Spain Spanish
People use both phrasals to convey "negative" meanings, but what about "positive" feelings? Imagine someone is watching TV and finds out they've just won the lottery: This person starts to jump for joy, shout, dance, goes crazy with happiness?

Can you use freak/flip out to express so much happiness? Is there a third phrasal verb which conveys "positive" feelings in such a way?

In my perception both freak and flip express "negative" feelings.

What do you think?

  • kuleshov

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    But you see, according to the MacMillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners -2002 edition-, flip (out) has two meanings:
    1. to become very angry. become very enthusiastic or happy.

    The second meaning fits my example because actually the dictionary gives the following example for definition 2: He flipped when he heard he'd won.

    On the other hand, people tell me exactly what you say; use freak out whether you are angry, frightened, or hilarious.

    So, I'm still more :confused: than before.

    What about other Englishes? Does anyone use flip (out) in the MacMillan definition 2 meaning?



    Senior Member
    US, English
    I think it's a question of frequency. They both can be used for negative meanings, but 'freak out' is more often used in positive ways, too. I think it has a more positive connotation.
    Many people my age and younger use 'freak out' to describe their state of mind when they feel overwhelmed OR excited. Also, Rick James had a dance hit in the early '80s called Super Freak (which actually means something different) that has remained popular in various forms, since then. The song repeats the phrase 'freak out'. On the other hand, it is somewhat common to hear 'he/she flipped out, then...' when talking about a crime that was committed.


    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    I agree with the dictionary.

    I use 'freak out' for negative things, and 'flip out' for both negative and positive things.

    moo bottle

    England, English
    You could use 'went mental', although this is yet again associated with both positive and negative feelings...

    How about 'was overjoyed'? :)


    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    Thanks a lot, guys!

    I guess freak out conveys more meanings than flip out.

    And I reckon it is also a question of jargon, or of age.

    For example, when a groupie goes "hysterical" because their idol has eventually turned up, what would you say? They are freaking or flipping out?

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