What is Cabin Fever?

Cabin Fever Meaning

Definition: Feeling bored and restless after being inside for a long time.

Origin of Cabin Fever

This expression has existed since around the year 1900. Originally, it referred to someone who was isolated in a remote area during the winter. It was necessary to stay indoors for many days at a time, and it could make a person feel very trapped.

Over time, people began to use the expression in a more general way to describe anyone feeling trapped for a long time, under any circumstances.

Examples of Cabin Fever

Cabin fever symptomsIn the dialogue below, two friends are at a hospital and one is recovering from a big surgery.

Ezekiel: I’ve never been in bed this long before.

Maggie: Well, it’s important that you get enough rest and fully recover from the surgery.

Ezekiel: I know it’s important, but I’ve been in this room for days. There’s nothing to do. I’m suffering badly from cabin fever!

Maggie: Maybe I can bring something fun here. I could bring a few games to distract you.

Ezekiel: Thanks, but I doubt it would help. I just want to be able to go outside and run around.

Meaning of cabin feverIn this example two friends are bored during their ski trip.

Mila: I don’t understand why all the other people in our friend group are having so much fun during this ski trip. I never should have agreed to come.

Tyrion: Yeah, same. It’s way too cold to go skiing. I feel stuck in this ski lodge.

Mila: Me too. And there’s almost nothing to do inside. We need to get out of here and do something. Maybe we should just go back home.

Tyrion: Yeah. This cabin fever is killing me. I’m so bored!

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about the town of Big Sur. A bridge broke and cut off access to the town, meaning the residents couldn’t come and go easily.

  • A week into their confinement, residents began to show the signs of cabin fever. –LA Times

This excerpt is from a movie review. The characters are stuck in a house because of a terrible illness killing many people.

  • While she is focused on those far away, the others are caught up in the drama unfolding in front of them during their collective cabin fever. LA Times


The phrase cabin fever describes the feeling of boredom, depression, and anxiety that can occur when trapped indoors for too long.