What Does Making a Mountain out of a Molehill Mean?

Making a Mountain out of a Molehill Meaning

Definition: Making a small, unimportant issue into a big problem.

If someone makes a mountain out of a molehill, he is taking a little problem and turning into something much bigger and more problematic than it actually is. This phrase is used to tell someone that he or she is overreacting.

Origin of Making a Mountain out of a Molehill

This expression existed as far back as the year 1548 when Nicholas Udall used it in his work titled, The First Tome or Volume of the Paraphrase of Erasmus Upon the New Testament.

mountain into a molehillThe quote that including the expression was,

  • The Sophistes of Grece coulde through their copiousness make an Elephant of a flye, and a mountaine of a mollehill.

Examples of Making a Mountain out of a Molehill

In our first example, two young women use the expression while discussing the class they are taking together.

Cassie: Look! I lost a point just for accidentally misspelling this word!

Rebecca: Yeah, but you also got the highest grade in the class.

Cassie: I know. But it’s a matter of principle! I’m going to talk to the teacher.

Rebecca: Even if she gives you that extra point, your overall grade won’t change. You’ll still have an A+ in the class.

Cassie: But it’s a ridiculous reason to take away a point.

Rebecca: Still, I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

Cassie: What? I am not!

making mountains out of molehillsIn the below dialogue, two friends discuss a new group they’ve joined.

Antonio: So, what do you think of the group?

Igor: I like it! It’s a lot of fun.

Antonio: Yeah, it was okay. I’m not sure if I’ll keep going, though.

Igor: Why not?

Antonio: No one could remember my name. It was annoying and disrespectful.

Igor: I heard someone say your name.

Antonio: And they mispronounced it!

Igor: Well, of course, you don’t have to come if you don’t want to, but I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. You’re going to miss out on a great opportunity just because a few people didn’t remember your name.

More Examples

In the below article, a man uses the expression to describe the predicament of a person who wants to address a problem that is important to him, but he doesn’t want to seem like he is overreacting.

  • He can imagine the unease of minority students, trying to forthrightly address an unintended slight at the moment it occurs “without coming across as thin-skinned, strident or making a mountain out of a molehill.” –LA Times

This article excerpt uses the expression to describe a phenomenon where investigators take small amounts of evidence and try to make it seem big enough to build a whole case on it.

  • “Their case is based on guesswork, not evidence,” said Mark Werksman, an attorney for Julissa Lopez. “All they’ve got is a bunch of money. They’re trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.” –LA Times

Summary

The phrase making a mountain out of a molehill is an expression that means someone is exaggerating a problem.