Going postal

Not a good thing!

Cat going postal, pic: rufkm.net

“going postal” means to become very angry to the point where the anger becomes uncontrollable and might even have terrifying consequences like shooting people randomly, often at the workplace.

The expression dates back to the early 80s when a number of shooting incidents perpetrated by postal workers left co-workers, managers, and members of the public dead.

The expression in every day use does not imply that somebody was shoot, just that whoever was “going postal” got really really angry.  Generally one would expect a certain amount of violence involved – or at least very assaulting language.  It can, of course, be used in hyperbole to express that somebody reacted strongly in a negative way.

This is not an expression to use lightly at the workplace or with people one does not know well.  Among friends it can be used when warranted or ironically.

An example:

“When I broke up with Joe he went totally postal.”

“What did he do?”

“He threw all my clothes out onto the street and smashed my car window.”


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