11 Idioms for Exhausted from Across the United States
Just because you’re tired doesn’t mean your language has to be. With some help from our friends at the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), we’ve come up with 11 “tired” regional idioms for the next time you’re feeling all-gone, dragged out, done in, or just plain dusted.
1. ALL IN BUT ONE’S SHOESTRINGS
A phrase that means totally done in or hanging by a thread. Variations include all in but one’s shoelaces and all in but one’s bootstraps. This term is chiefly used in the North with quotes in DARE from Wisconsin, Vermont, Illinois, New York, and Washington.
2. POOHED OUT
This North Central and Upper Midwest expression means “to fail, grow weak or tired, come to nothing.” DARE notes that the “pooh” part might be a corruption of poop. Poop (out), meaning to break down or stop working, originated in the late 1920s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The sense of “to tire, exhaust” is from about 1931. The earliest quote in DARE of pooh out is from 1930 when the saying started as college slang and was particularly “common at Oberlin.”
3. WAGGED OUT
While to wig out means to freak out or get overly excited, to be wagged out or waggy is the opposite. This phrase is especially used in Maine and Massachusetts. A quote from 1877 says it means to be tired or worn out, “as if finished wagging.” A quote from 1968 suggests that waggy is more akin to feeling “mental or physical distress, agitation, discomfort, or illness,” and is similar to streaked, a term used chiefly in New England.
More weary out combos include beat out (especially used in New England), given out (used in the South and South Midland), pegged out (with quotes from Maine, Vermont, Arkansas, and Maryland), and puckered out, which is an alteration of tuckered out.
4. COOPERED UP
The next time you’re stiff, unable to move, or just plain exhausted, you can say you’re coopered up. A 1959 quote from Vermont History says the term is “from the days of barrel making or coopering.”
Other enervated idioms that use “up” include gone up, with quotes from Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, New York, and the Mississippi Valley, and janted up, with a quote from Kentucky.
Ausgespielt is the past participle of the German ausspielen, “to play out, play to the end.” In addition to meaning “very tired,” it might refer to something “finished” or “broken,” whether literally (“The potatoes are _____” or “My sewing machine is _____”) or figuratively (“If a man loses interest in a girl and stops seeing her,” the relationship is ausgespielt), according to quotes in DARE.
If you've got a touch of the blahs, you could say you’re feeling shabby. This term you might hear in the South is Scots in origin, says DARE, while shabby—meaning dingy, worn, or faded—might come from the German schäbig, meaning, you guessed it, "shabby."
You could also say you’re feeling goopy, another term for general ickiness. It could also refer to something sticky or smeared, or weather that’s unpleasant. Another meaning for the word goopy, according to the OED, is stupid or “fatuously amorous.”
Limber doesn’t just mean flexible. In the South and South Midland, it might mean limp, weak, and exhausted, and is often used in the phrase limber as a dishrag.
You might get flaxed out from flaxing around. To flax (out) means to become tired or weary, while flax (around) means to hurry and bustle. Flax (out) has quotes from New England and Ohio, and flax (around) is chiefly used in the North and especially New England.
White-eyed, meaning exhausted or worn out, might mainly be heard in the Appalachians. A quote from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English says the phrase “began as a description of one who became faint from fieldwork in the sun and gets pale around the eyes and mouth.”
11. SENT FOR AND COULDN'T COME
Feeling indisposed? Out of sorts? Exhausted? You could say you’re feeling like you were sent for and couldn’t come. Used especially in the South and South Midland states, one 1993 quote likened the phrase to “what younger people nowadays call ‘a bad hair day.’”