Recently my friend and I were talking about something that would cause great dismay to our other mutual friend, and he said "if X knew about this, he would roll over in his grave, if he were dead." Which is funny but also made me think how there's not really any equivalent expression for someone who is alive. Sure, I can say that it would cause him great dismay, but that feels a bit formal/stilted and also a bit of an understatement. Am I forgetting anything?

  • 1
    There are many, depending on how colorful you want to be and how sensitive certain topics are. Do any fit the bill for you? For example, if you or your audience are sensitive to suicide, you would not choose "He would kill himself if...:" Otherwise pick "He would have a..." (fit/cow/conniption/etc.) Or "blow his top," "bust and artery" "head would explode". Think of an angry cartoon character. BTW, I am in USA. I would bet that the British have plenty of colorful expressions of their own for this situation.
    – Damila
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 21:39
  • @Damila I was going to post a similar comment, but I found all the options to be so tiresome in listing...perhaps you might want to take a few moments to convert one or two of your suggestions into an answer? I will certainly help you. Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 23:30
  • 2
    “I can hear him rolling over in his grave already, and he’s not even dead yet!” is perfectly commonplace where I’m from. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 9:23
  • @JanusBahsJacquet really? Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 22:10

2 Answers 2


How about "throw a fit" as in?

"if X knew about this, he would throw a fit."

  • This was certainly my first thought... Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 23:31
  • Yeah, it's not quite the same. Throw a fit implies to me that something is wrong with the person throwing the fit, like they are thin-skinned or childish. Which isn't really right in this situation since they're the innocent party. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 22:08
  • In Franklin County, PA, USA, I've heard. "He'd have kittens" and "She'd throw a hissy fit"...
    – Conrado
    Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 2:38

Old question. But I found this because I was just thinking of this and searched the question. I do believe the appropriate equivelent is "If X knew about this, he would grow a grey hair."

  • 1
    Fair enough, new one on me. Could you provide a link to an authoritative source as is mandated in the help center? (From review). Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 2:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.