19th Century

Kiwi-isms: Throwing a wobbly

I thought it would be fun to translate, and illustrate, some of my favourite kiwi-isms

Throw a wobbly (also, Chuck a wobbly)

1. To have a meltdown, temper tantrum, hissy fit, etc.

When Kitty found out that the florist had brought carnations instead of roses she threw a wobbly and refused to walk down the aisle

P.S. Don’t you love Toulmouche’s painting?  How he caught the delustred satin of the grey dress, the duchesse satin of the brides frock, the rust-coloured velvet (it’s an 1860s version of Maria Josepha’s dress!), and the apricot taffeta.

My favourite is the littlest bridesmaid, who seems to be saying “whatever, have your wobbly, I’m just going to play dress up with your wreath”.  I suspect she is the bride’s little sister!


  1. JPaper says

    Are you sure that’s a New Zealand thing? I’m from England and we say that all the time (in the North, anyway).

    • You are absolutely right that it is not just a Kiwi thing. It’s a NZ/Au/English thing. However, it shows up in books on Kiwi-isms so I decided I was free to use it ;-). Next time I’ll try to pick something exclusively Kiwi!

  2. LOVE the painting! She looks like she is working her way up to a real tantrum! Everyone fussing around her and it’s just making it worse. Little sister knows to take it with a grain of salt.
    Pity the husband. Or maybe that’s why, because he is horrible and she doesn’t want to marry him?
    I love paintings that give you a glimpse of the situation like that, so much fun to speculate about it.
    I also find it fascinating that when a painting does that, it must be either because the painter is not very good at faces, or it’s intentional, as of course it is painted, not a candid snap like a photo. Amazing!

    • Oh I just realised, probably the most common form of this idiom is to ‘pack a wobbly’. You can lso ‘pack a fit’. I must remember to pack a wobbly and a fit in my suitcase hehehe

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