go bananas

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Senior Member

Here are the sentences from the book 'Idioms for everyday Use' by Milada Broukal:
'The owner of the Cadillac I hit went bananas when he saw the damage to the front of his car. He started shouting at me and wouldn't stop.'
I would like to know whether the expression 'go bananas' is used in everyday speech.
The thing is while most of the idioms in the book are widely used, such as 'red tape', 'out of the blue', etc., some are not.
I have already received great explanations about 'be in a pickle', 'be a peach'.
As we use the book at the refresher course I am reading this year, I anticipate questions about this expression too.

Thank you in advance.
  • redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Example: Do you remember the moment when crowdfunding became A Thing? Sites like Kickstarter have been around for a few years now, and the amount they've grown in that time is bananas, as this infographic from Statista shows. From 2010 to 2012, cash spent on crowdfunding tripled, from $900 million to about $2.7 billion.

    Source: Cash Raised Through Crowdfunding Tripled In Three Years [Infographic] (www.popsci.com)

    Does "bananas" here mean "the amount they've grown in that time goes through the roof/ is insanely sky-high"?


    Senior Member
    Basically what bananas means (except when it's referring to that fruit that you peel ;) ) is "crazy" or "insane." So the site has grown a crazy amount ("through the roof" works too) in the specified time.


    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thank you JustKate. Given that crazy has a broad range of meanings, do you only use "I'm going to go bananas" when you're sad and mad? Do you think it's less common as an equivalent to "hyperventilated" (such as stumbling across your idol.) ?


    Senior Member
    Like crazy and nuts, bananas is used in all sorts of contexts. It can mean crazy in a good way or crazy in a bad way - it can mean angry - it can mean wildly enthusiastic. (And it is sometimes used to mean literally crazy, too - as in "I think he needs to see a psychiatrist" - though not very often.) However, it's...well, it's a word that's sort of inherently funny-sounding (at least to my ears), so I probably wouldn't use it when I wanted to sound serious or concerned.


    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    What heypresto says for BE, I can confirm for AE. I also agree with the advice to use it only every other day, not every day.
    I've never heard "bananas" = "crazy" without "go".


    Senior Member
    I looked around and it seems that this expression is more likely to be associated with intense anger than any other extreme emotional state. But yes, it can mean "crazy" in other ways.

    >>usually it's "go bananas" or "went bananas

    I agree, but if you look at the etymological root, it looks like plain old bananas was being referred to before it became common to speak of "going" to that … condition.

    This idiom is apparently a fairly recent development. Etymology Online has
    "crazy," 1968; earlier (1935) it was noted as an underworld slang term for "sexually perverted."
    The Phrase Finder (with a good reference) has:
    Bananas = (perhaps related to 'go ape') = go nuts, crazy. Used rather faddishly during the late 1960s. From "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994.
    This view is supported by an entry on yourdictionary.com, again well-referenced, (What does "go bananas" mean?), an informed blog (Go Nuts), and a page on todayifoundout.com (15 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Bananas).

    The following adds a view that seems more credible than some others I found (e.g., Thai drinks made with banana, or bent, which apparently has all kinds of negative connotations in BrE (a reference to the bend in a banana)
    'Banana' comes from burlesque, c. 1920s; 'Banana' is a comedian, 'top banana' as main comic and 'second banana' as straight man. To 'go bananas' is for an unsuccessful act; dogs, dancers, etc. to convert to a comic act, usually slapstick, badly under-rehearsed and desperate. — What is the meaning of the idiom 'to go bananas'?
    This thread on englishforums.com has a promising title (Etymology - bananas as synonym for "crazy" - Balderdash and Piffle), but I think these people may have been smoking the peel.
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