Don't Get Me Started: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 22, 2023

The phrase "don't get me started" is a common idiom used when someone does not want to begin discussing a certain topic because it could lead to a long, possibly heated conversation, typically due to their strong feelings or opinions about the matter.

In short:

  • "Don't get me started" is an expression used to avoid starting a lengthy or emotional discussion.
  • It indicates that the speaker has strong feelings or opinions about the topic at hand.

What Does "Don't Get Me Started" Mean?

The phrase "don't get me started" is often used when someone wants to avoid initiating a conversation about a certain subject that might stir up passionate or intense responses.

Let's delve into its implications and uses:

  • "Don't get me started" is typically used when someone has strong, often negative, feelings about a topic. It implies that if they were to start talking about it, they might go on at length or become heated.
  • This phrase is used to express frustration, disagreement, or deep passion about a subject, suggesting that it's better not to initiate a conversation about it to avoid a potential rant or heated debate.
  • You might use "don't get me started" when someone mentions a subject that you have a lot to say about, particularly if it's something that annoys or upsets you.
    • For instance, if someone mentions a political issue that you feel strongly about, you might say, "Don't get me started on that topic."
  • Phrases similar to "don't get me started" might include "don't even go there," "let's not talk about that," or "don't open that can of worms."

Where Does "Don't Get Me Started" Come From?

The origin of the phrase "don't get me started" isn't precisely known, but it's widely used in English-speaking countries and has been a part of casual conversation for many years. Its usage implies a universal human tendency to avoid certain topics that could lead to long, impassioned discussions or debates.

Pop Culture Example

"But don't get me started on that subject. Sergeant, where will our Committee find you tomorrow morning ten o'clock ?"

- The Other Person by Harris Dickson, 1919

10 Examples of "Don't Get Me Started" in Sentences

To provide some context on how to use this idiom, here are examples from various situations:

  • My boss is the devil incarnate, but please, don't get me started on the countless issues I've had with him.
  • Don't get me started on how my neighbor's parrot is so coo-coo; it wakes me up every morning with its random noises.
  • Don't get me started on the inefficiencies of our public transport system.
  • People who act out of spite can be incredibly frustrating but don't get me started on the numerous examples I've encountered.
  • "Don't get me started on the latest episode of that show; I could talk for hours!" he warned.
  • She snapped, "Don't get me started about my ex-boyfriend; we'll be here all night."
  • Once bitten, twice shy, they say, but don't get me started on how stupid I was back then.
  • "Don't get me started on how expensive rent has become in this city," the young man groaned.
  • Drive safely, and don't get me started on the importance of following traffic rules and being cautious on the road.
  • Traffic is the bane of my existence; seriously, don't get me started on it.

Examples of "Don't Get Me Started" in Pop Culture

The phrase "don't get me started" has permeated into popular culture, often used to express a character's intense feelings on a particular subject.

Here are a few instances:

  • "Billy Crystal: Don't Get Me Started - The Billy Crystal Special" is a 1986 TV special featuring comedian Billy Crystal and directed by Rob Reiner.
  • "Don't Get Me Started" is a 1994 movie starring Trevor Eve and Steven Waddington.
  • "Don't Get Me Started" is Kate Clinton's first humor book, published in 1998.
  • Rhett Akins has a song titled "Don't Get Me Started."
  • In the article "Ways to Be Pretentious" by Ian Penman on LRB, the phrase is used: "Don't get me started on her rap about how she learned to dance with all the funky 'spades.'"

Other/Different Ways to Say "Don't Get Me Started"

You can use several other expressions to convey the same sentiment as "don't get me started."

Here are a few alternatives:

  • Let's not go there
  • Don't even go there
  • Let's not open that can of worms
  • I'd rather not get into that
  • Let's avoid that topic
  • Don't push my buttons
  • Don't open that Pandora's box
  • I'd rather not talk about it
  • Let's not stir up that hornet's nest
  • Don't fan the flames

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Don't Get Me Started":

  • What does "don't get me started" mean?

"Don't get me started" is an idiomatic phrase often used to express frustration or strong feelings about a topic. It suggests that once the speaker begins discussing the subject, they may not stop due to their passionate or intense feelings about it.

  • How can I use "don't get me started" in a sentence?

You can use "don't get me started" when someone brings up a topic that you have strong feelings or opinions about. For example, "You know I'm a coffee feen, but don't get me started on how much I spend on it each month."

  • Where does the phrase "don't get me started" come from?

The origin of the phrase "don't get me started" isn't clearly documented, but it is a common idiom in English-speaking countries. It's likely a natural development of conversational English.

  • Is "don't get me started" used casually or formally?

"Don't get me started" is generally used in more casual, conversational settings. It can be inappropriate in formal contexts due to its somewhat colloquial nature.

  • Can "don't get me started" be used to express positive emotions?

While "don't get me started" is often associated with frustration or annoyance, it can be used to express positive emotions if the speaker is passionate about a topic in a positive way. However, this usage is less common.

  • How is "don't get me started" used in pop culture?

In pop culture, characters often use "don't get me started" to show their strong feelings about a certain topic. This phrase can be used to add humor or show a character's passion or frustration.

  • Can "don't get me started" be used in written communication?

Yes, "don't get me started" can be used in written communication, particularly in informal contexts such as personal emails, social media posts, and casual correspondence.

  • What emotions are generally associated with the phrase "don't get me started"?

The phrase "don't get me started" is typically associated with strong emotions, often frustration, annoyance, or passion about a particular topic.

  • Does "don't get me started" always indicate anger?

No, "don't get me started" doesn't always indicate anger. It typically signifies that the speaker has strong feelings about a topic, which could be negative or positive, though it is more commonly used with negative or critical connotations.

  • Does "don't get me started" have a negative connotation?

"Don't get me started" often has a negative connotation because it's frequently used to express annoyance or frustration. However, the specific connotation can depend on the speaker's tone and context.

Final Thoughts About "Don't Get Me Started"

The phrase "don't get me started" is a conversational idiom often used to express strong feelings about a topic. It is typically used in casual contexts and is commonly used to express frustration or annoyance, although it can also be used to indicate passionate interest.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Don't get me started" is an idiom that expresses strong feelings or frustration about a topic.
  • It is typically used in casual conversation rather than formal contexts.
  • While it often has a negative connotation due to its association with frustration or annoyance, the specific connotation can depend on the speaker's tone and context.

"Don't get me started" is a phrase that captures the speaker's strong feelings or passion about a topic. It's a way for the speaker to warn others about their intense emotions or opinions and to potentially steer the conversation in a different direction.

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