What Does Off Your Rocker Mean?

Off Your Rocker Meaning

Definition: Crazy.

A similar expression is off one’s head. Lesser known examples include off one’s noodle, off one’s trolley, and off one’s nut.

Origin of Off Your Rocker

This expression originated near the end of the 1800s. Off is a common beginning to expressions signaling mental problems. In some cases, one might simply say, “Something about him seems off.”

The reason for rocker appearing in the expression is unclear. Some sources speculate that it is possible that it refers to a rocking chair. In popular culture, older people are commonly depicted in rocking chairs. Older people are also susceptible to dementia. Therefore, someone off his rocker might mean an old person who fell off of the rocking chair due to unusual behavior.

However, another more likely idea is related to electrical trams. Some trolleys need to maintain contact with an overhead wire to receive power. Off one’s trolley means that the trolley lost contact with the wire, and lost power. This could make sense for a person’s whose brain is no longer receiving a good signal. Off one’s rocker could merely be a synonym for off one’s trolley.

Examples of Off Your Rocker

get off your rockersThe first dialogue shows a brother and sister discussing what to eat for lunch.

Luke: I want to try making something a little different for lunch today. Are you willing to try something new?

Ella: Maybe! What were you thinking of making?

Luke: Maybe we could cook some rice with sugar.

Ella: Are you off your rocker? That sounds disgusting!

Luke: Geeze. Fine. I’ll make something more traditional.

off the rockerThe second example shows two friends who are getting brunch together.

Ray: What is that guy doing over at that other table?

Ricardo: Hmmm. I’m not sure. It looks like he’s trying to tie his napkin on his head like a hat.

Ray: Yeah. Now he’s yelling wildly at the waiter and throwing his food!

Ricardo: What’s his problem?

Ray: I’m not sure. Nothing that he’s saying makes any sense. I guess he’s just off his rocker.

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about running in a winter race with obstacles.

  • Maybe we are all a little crazy, those of us who choose to do obstacle course racing (OCRs). You figure you’d have to be a little adventurous, or off your rocker, to spend a Saturday trekking around a ski hill and advancing through, over and around various obstacles, from standing teeter-totters, to 8-foot walls, to ice-bucket hauling, to tubing. –Journal Sentinel

This excerpt is from an article about Wikipedia.

  • My favorite comment on a page about Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, where the editors are viciously fighting about whether Mr. Cruz’s Canadian birth prohibits him from running for the presidency: “Oops … I forgot you were off your rocker. Sorry to agitate you again.” –New York Times


The idiom off one’s rocker is another way to call someone insane.