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What Does It Mean to "Bounce off the Walls"?

Helen Akers
Updated May 23, 2024
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The expression "bounce off the walls" means that someone is full of nervous or excited energy. Parents sometimes use the saying to indicate an annoyance and frustration with their children's hyperactivity. "Bounce off the walls" is an idiom that is frequently used in the English language to illustrate a high amount of excitement.

Hyperactivity is often expressed with physical activity, such as talking fast, jumping up and down or running around in circles. To "bounce off the walls" indicates that a person is so ecstatic that his excitement can't be contained. It usually means that the person needs some sort of outlet to release all of the self-contained excitement and energy.

Someone may be described as about to "bounce off the walls" if he receives good news that causes an ecstatic reaction. Getting a promotion at work, an acceptance letter from a top college or university or winning the lottery might cause someone to "bounce off the walls." The person may yell, scream or run around in order to express his high amount of joy. Extreme happiness is difficult for most people to contain and expressing it physically is sometimes an automatic reaction.

Children who become hyper due to naturally high energy levels, excitement or the consumption of too much sugar and caffeine may start to drive those around them nuts. Caretakers may say the children are "bouncing off the walls" to indicate they are not pleased with the high amount of excitement. They may wish to make an attempt to calm the children down by taking them out of a constrained environment. For example, some parents take their children on walks or out to play when they feel their excitement levels are too much to stay indoors.

Consuming certain types of foods that are high in caffeine and natural energy boosters may make someone appear as though he is "bouncing off the walls." Energy drinks are famous for giving someone the feeling that he can run a marathon. The high amounts of caffeine and sugar act as temporary stimulants, which causes a person to have elevated energy levels. It creates a physical high that may be accompanied by an emotional response that appears to be excitement.

When someone is said to be "bouncing off the walls" it usually means he is unable to sit still. The person is usually overtly expressive in some way. This individual may draw attention to himself by his behavior, which may be loud and obnoxious.

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Helen Akers
By Helen Akers
Helen Akers, a talented writer with a passion for making a difference, brings a unique perspective to her work. With a background in creative writing, she crafts compelling stories and content to inspire and challenge readers, showcasing her commitment to qualitative impact and service to others.
Discussion Comments
By wavy58 — On Dec 12, 2011

My husband has ADD, and bouncing off the walls is a part of his personality. He does have trouble concentrating on one thing for more than a minute or so, yet he is very happy. He jokes around a lot and dances about like a kid.

His sister said his hyperactivity was really bad when he was younger. Their parents would punish him for it, but he could not control it.

For a short while, he took medication for it. It's strange, but people with ADD take a type of stimulant to calm themselves down. If a regular person were to take the same drug, they would be bouncing off the walls, but a person with ADD reacts the opposite way to it.

He got off the medication, because it seemed to tone down his personality too much. He lost his sense of humor and playfulness, and he did not want that. He would rather bounce off the walls than sit stoically in a chair.

By cloudel — On Dec 11, 2011

@Oceana – It sounds like it would be nice to take steroids for a few days. It sure would help me get a few things done around here!

Like you, I saw an end to my “bouncing off the wall” days when I hit my twenties. I remember the sugar highs I used to get. It felt really good to go spastic for awhile.

My best friend and I used to eat chocolate and drink caffeinated sodas together. Then, we suddenly would develop the hyperactivity of a child. We would run, skate, jump on the trampoline, and laugh til we cried.

I miss those days. My energy level sure is in the dumps these days, but I know that consuming mass amounts of caffeine is not the answer. That makes me too jittery now.

By Perdido — On Dec 10, 2011

Sometimes I babysit my sister's two young children. They have an unbelievable amount of energy, and when they start bouncing off the walls, I refuse to let them get to me.

I take them outside and let them play in the jumpy house. This was their Christmas present from me last year. No one else knew it, but it really was for my own benefit.

When they are bouncing off the soft walls of the jumpy house, they are expending a ton of energy. I can go inside and enjoy the peace and quiet, and when they are done playing, they have simmered down quite a bit.

By Oceana — On Dec 10, 2011

I was bouncing off the walls when I had to take steroids for a week to recover from strep throat. They gave me renewed strength and motivation. I wanted to use that endurance while I could, and I think I annoyed my husband a little.

I got him to help me rearrange the guest room. I organized piles of things we had in the closet and got him to take them up to the attic. Even though I had all this energy, I did have to have help lifting some things and carrying them up the stairs.

I didn't sleep for a couple of nights, and somehow, I kept going. I could not sit still. That was the first time since I was a teenager that I have had that old bouncing off the walls feeling.

Helen Akers
Helen Akers
Helen Akers, a talented writer with a passion for making a difference, brings a unique perspective to her work. With a...
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