Common Idioms – All Riled Up

All Riled Up Definition: 

Extremely annoyed, vexed, or hyperactive.

The Origin of All Riled Up

The phrase comes from the verb roil, which first appeared in the 1500s. The word rile appeared in the 1800s and reflected a change in spelling and pronunciation from roil, even though the definition stayed the same.

Both roil and rile can mean bothering someone or making water turbid by stirring it.

Someone who is riled up has been upset or enraged by someone else who is bothering them. However, it can also be defined as someone with lots of energy who is highly active. This usage is widespread when describing younger children.

Although the expression appeared in the 1800s, around the same time rile appeared by itself, its use shot up in popularity in the 1970s.

Examples of All Riled Up

In the below example, two parents are talking about their children.

Mario: Do you have any plans for the winter holidays?

Samantha: My family is coming to visit us from out of town.

Mario: Oh, that sounds like fun!

Samantha: I’m glad they are coming to visit it, but honestly, I dread my brother spending time with my two youngest kids.

Mario: Why is that?

Samantha: He always gets them all riled up! They will be calm and in bed; then he goes in to say goodnight. Then out of nowhere, they’re all having a pillow fight and screeching like banshees!

In the next example, two siblings are arguing about their online business.

Tarryn: Listen, we are doing a great job selling kimchi online, but I think it’s time to expand our offerings.

Caleb: How do you propose doing that?

Tarryn: Well, we’ve been selling our regular kimchi for a while now. Let’s start to produce white kimchi!

Caleb: Fine, as long as you are the one making it. As you know, I’m going back to college next week, so I won’t be able to take on any more production commitments.

Tarryn: Come on, Caleb! I think it can really help us make a bigger profit! You need to help me with this.

Caleb: Look, this is non-negotiable. Stop pushing this before I get all riled up and start fighting with you!

More Examples

A story by Sarah Braunstein titled “All You Have To Do:”

  • “That’s fine,” the woman said in a tired voice. “Don’t get all riled up.”– The New Yorker

An article from the guardian about the community benefits of McDonals restaurants:

  • In Sulfur Springs, Texas, in the late morning, Lew Mannon, 76, and Gerald Pinkham, 78, were sitting alone at a table, the last of the morning regulars to leave. She was needling him about politics. (“I like to tease the men who come, get them all riled up, tell them they just don’t want a female as president.”)– The Guardian


The expression all riled up means agitated or annoyed.

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By Connie Fisher

Connie Fisher is a freelance writer and editor specializing in business writing and marketing. She holds a bachelor's degree in media and journalism and has contributed to a slew of printed and online media, including Contra Costa Times, Daily American, the The Tri-Town News,, and many more.

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