Come Apart at the Seams

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Fall Apart at the Seams
Come Unglued
Come Unstuck

Meaning of Idiom 'Come Apart at the Seams'

When referring to an object, to come apart at the seams means to fall apart; disintegrate. The expression does not require an object to actually be coming apart at the seams, but only to be falling apart in general.

Referring to a person, come apart at the seams means to lose control of one's emotions or to become extremely upset; to suffer a mental and/or emotional breakdown. The variants 'to come unglued' or 'come unstuck' have the same meaning when used figuratively to describe one's emotional or mental state.

Usage

"When Susan broke up with him, Mike seemed to come apart at the seams."

"I think this job is too much for Rick. He's under too much stress and I think he's coming apart at the seams."

"My car is coming apart at the seams. It's a rust bucket but I can't can't afford a new one."

"The actor screamed at everyone and stormed off-set. This is not the first time that the star, who is becoming increasingly unglued, has lost control during filming."

Origin

A seam is where pieces of fabric are sewn together, or where planks of wood are joined. These lines create weak points where a piece of clothing or object is likely to come apart. The idiom is a slang expression originating in the mid-1900's which uses an allusion something physically falling apart to refer to falling apart in an emotional sense or 'not holding oneself together.'

It would seem that when used to refer to physical objects actually falling apart that the expression is too literal to be an idiom, but it is used to refer to any kind of disintegration, whether or not it involves failure at seams or joints.

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