First, a bit of context.

Richard Stallman, father of the free software movement, has struggled all his life trying to explain that the "free" in "free software" is a "free" as in "freedom", not as "free beer".

Now, let's say someone argues that the main reason for adopting free software is that it has no cost (free beer). How can I tell him that he would make Richard Stallman go mad by saying this?

Is there an idiom that could communicate this effectively? (Obviously, this is a language question, not a free software debate.)

Edit: I just realized that I am looking for a version of "to turn in one's grave" for alive people :)

  • "You'll make RMS go bananas", "You'll make RMS go bonkers", "You'll make RMS flip his lid"... so many to choose from!
    – user730
    Dec 13, 2010 at 3:34
  • Thanks for the suggestions J. M. Why not post it as an answer? Dec 13, 2010 at 3:36
  • Because I don't know which of these you want. But if you insist...
    – user730
    Dec 13, 2010 at 3:39
  • 2
    How about: "If Richard Stallman were dead, he'd be turning in his grave right now!"? :) Dec 13, 2010 at 9:58
  • 4
    From my personal, subjective, anecdotal experience, it is completely and utterly impossible to make Stallman go mad. He's got more patience than most other people I know combined. If you're looking for an equivalent of "to turn in one's grave" for RMS, I would go with "roll one's eyes" or "shrug".
    – RegDwigнt
    Dec 13, 2010 at 10:15

8 Answers 8


If you say this to Richard, he'll...

  • go nuts
  • go crazy
  • go mental
  • explode
  • lose it big time

Since Olivier insists:

There are at least four sentences you can use:

"You'll make RMS go bananas!"

"You'll make RMS go bonkers!"

"You'll make RMS flip his lid!"

"You'll make RMS blow his gasket!"

or since this is RMS we're talking about...

"You'll make RMS explode into bits!"


In addition to the others mentioned:

If you say this to RMS, he will...

  • bust a blood vessel
  • go postal
  • do his nut
  • go nuclear
  • spontaneously combust
  • blow his top
  • bite your head off
  • give you a piece of his mind
  • see red
  • haul you over the coals
  • tear a strip off you

I could go on forever... ;)

  • Sometimes I use "spontaneously ignite" or "pop a blood vessel", but of course it's a matter of style... :)
    – user730
    Dec 13, 2010 at 10:55
  • +1 for the spontaneous combustion; that's one we just don't hear enough :)
    – Will
    Dec 13, 2010 at 13:54

Dicky S would have a fit.

  • 1
    "Dicky S" sounds so wrong, man... XD
    – user730
    Dec 13, 2010 at 12:44
  • We can't all be RMS fans.
    – Eric
    Dec 14, 2010 at 12:41

You could keep it themed:

Don't say that 'Free Software' has no cost, or Richard Stallman could go proprietary on your ass!

It might not be a common idiom, but your audience should understand the intention from the context and tone of your delivery


RMS will be...

  • crazy
  • nuts
  • insane
  • bonzo
  • no longer in possession of his faculties
  • three fries short of a Happy Meal
  • wacko!
  • I appreciate the reference, but technically this is incorrect - these words and idioms are are using the sense of 'mad' as 'insane', rather than 'angry'. Jun 13, 2012 at 18:44

Coming late to the party; but all of the answers so far make the angry person the subject of the phrase (as in X will turn in her/his grave), rather than the object as in the original question. So to fill that gap, you might also…

  • drive/send X round the bend
  • drive/send X up the wall
  • drive X crazy
  • give X a fit
  • get X’s goat
  • …more? CW’d in hopes of more :-)

I'm partial to "X makes the baby Jesus cry."

In this context, it would be "That meaning of free makes Richard Stallman cry"

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