There are, in the English language, at least 25,000 ‘idiomatic expressions’, these being sayings/phrases of a figurative/metaphorical nature. One such idiom is the expression ‘drive round the bend’ (‘they’ve been driving me round the bend lately..) Although a widely used saying and one that is familiar by most British people, something that’s not quite so familiar, is the actual meaning behind this well known phrase. Todays post then will ensure that the next time you hear the saying ‘you’re driving me round the bend’ (hopefully not when someone is saying it to you directly), you will know its origins/its original meaning…
So, what are the origins of the term of phrase; ‘driving me round the bend?’
Dating back to the 18th-19th century, the saying originated in the Victorian era, having been inspired by the entrance to Victorian mental hospitals, whereby the drive would always be curved (i.e. on a bend). To access these hospitals, people had to literally go ‘around the bend’ in order to reach the entrance. Why? Because ‘straight’ drives were the characteristic of stately homes. Having ‘bent’ drives then acted as an easily distinguishable differentiator, whilst also shielding ‘Inmates’, (which we would now call ‘Patients’- more politically correct), from the view of the ‘rich…’ And so, that’s where the saying comes from. If you’re driving someone ’round the bend’, essentially, what that person is saying is that you’re driving them to a mental health hospital/you’re turning them ‘crazy’ and ‘mad.’ Makes sense, doesn’t it? What with the saying being commonly used to exclaim one’s frustration with someone/something.
Knowing the true meaning behind the phrase now (thanks to this post, I hope), next time you use it, whether directly or indirectly/as the ‘giver’ or as the ‘receiver’, I hope that you will consider its origins first and show respect for them- respect for their history and all the weight that those four simple words- ‘driving round the bend‘- really hold.