run wild: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘run wild’ mean?

The idiom run wild means to become out of control or to become unrestrained in behavior or actions.

Idiom Explorer

Unleashed and Unrestrained

To run wild means to be out of control or to behave in a chaotic or unrestrained manner. The origin of this idiom is unclear. Despite extensive research, no definitive etymology can be found. However, the phrase "run wild" does have historical usage in various contexts. While the exact origins may remain elusive, the idiom has been in use for a considerable amount of time.

The idiom "run wild" is commonly used in both literal and figurative senses. In its literal sense, it refers to animals or children running freely and without restraint. For example, you might see children running wild in a park, laughing and chasing each other. In a figurative sense, the idiom is used to describe someone or something that is unruly, uncontrolled, or acting in an undisciplined manner. It can be applied to situations, emotions, behaviors, or any other context that involves a lack of control or restraint.

Another related idiom is "go wild." This phrase is used to describe the act of becoming wildly excited or enthusiastic about something. It can also refer to letting loose and enjoying oneself without inhibitions. When you see something amazing or receive great news, you might "go wild" with excitement, jumping up and down and cheering. It captures the idea of unbridled joy and uninhibited expression.

Wild run unleashes the untamed freedom.

Similarly, the idiom "run amok" is closely related to "run wild." It originated from the Malay word "amuk" which means to attack. "Run amok" is used to describe someone who becomes uncontrollably enraged or goes on a violent rampage. It conveys the idea of someone losing their temper or sanity, and acting in a frenzied or violent manner. When someone "runs amok," they are completely out of control, causing chaos and destruction.

Another related idiom is "run riot." This phrase is used to describe a situation or event that is completely out of control or unruly. It conveys the sense of things becoming chaotic and disorderly. For example, you might say that a party "ran riot" when the guests became rowdy and started breaking things. "Running riot" suggests a lack of restraint and an excess of energy that results in a wild and frenetic atmosphere.

These related idioms capture different aspects of running wild. "Go wild" shows the excitement and enthusiasm, while "run amok" and "run riot" emphasize the lack of control and chaotic behavior. Each phrase adds nuance and depth to the concept of running wild, allowing for a richer and more vibrant description of situations or individuals that have broken free from boundaries and constraints.

Although the idiom "run wild" has no definitive origin, its usage and meaning remain widely recognized and understood. The phrase paints a vivid picture of untamed energy, lack of control, and chaotic behavior. It captures the essence of situations or individuals that have broken free from boundaries and constraints. While the etymology may be shrouded in mystery, the idiom continues to resonate with people, allowing them to convey the idea of unbridled chaos in a concise and impactful manner.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom run wild can be used in a sentence:

  1. The kids were so excited for summer break that they ran wild in the park all day.
  2. Without proper supervision, the party quickly spiraled out of control, with attendees running wild and causing chaos.
  3. Once the censorship was lifted, creative expression on the internet ran wild, with all sorts of new ideas and content emerging.

More "verb" idioms