Your mind might feel fried, but what about your nerves? Are they fried too? Or are they something else?
This is an expression that goes back a couple centuries, but sometimes, the exact wording is misheard or misspoken.
Is it “Frayed Nerves” or “Fried Nerves”?
And have you been saying this correctly?
Since the late 1870s, the phrase “frayed nerves” has been used to express a feeling of being worn down or irritated to a point of feeling a bit shredded.
If a rope is “frayed,” that means it has been strained and weakened, showing a bit of wear and tear. Sometimes, our nerves have the same feeling, when every last fiber of our being can feel on the edge of being undone. This is a metaphor, of course. If your nerves were literally frayed, we’d be talking about a greater medical issue. Even more so, if nerves were fried! Yikes!
The expression “to feel fried” is what often causes this “frayed nerves” versus “fried nerves” confusion. It’s a casual phrase, largely just used in the U.S., that means mentally exhausted. Your mind can be fried. Your brain can be fried. You can be fried. There is the other meaning referring to intoxication or being high, but there’s not usually frayed/fried confusion with that.
But when it comes to your nerves, those aren’t fried. They are frayed.
Though, I hope they aren’t in this moment. In this moment, here’s hoping they are actually “nerves of steel” (a phrase that’s been around since about 1800).
English language confusion-induced frazzled states are never a good thing. And if that’s how you’re feeling, I’ve got a great resource that can help with that.
Happy writing, folks!
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