Idiom:  (fall) off the wagon


Idiom:  (fall) off the wagon

  • to do some damaging or negative action again after having stopped doing it for a period of time 

Notes: This idiom is often used to describe alcoholics who have started drinking alcohol again after having stopped for awhile.

Example sentences

— Sadly, my father fell off the wagon and we’re trying to persuade him to go back to rehab.

— Your office called to see if something happened because you didn’t go to work today—are you off the wagon again?

— I maintained my diet for seven months until the holidays, when I fell off the wagon.

— Let's set-up some strategies that will help stop you from falling off the wagon when you are bored or stressed out.

— My son fell off the wagon again but luckily he called us the next morning and we got him back into a sober living program.

— Many people attend alcoholics anonymous to keep them from falling off the wagon.

— He's off the wagon again and everyone is scared he'll jeopardize his chance to get a liver transplant.

— My wife is off the wagon again. I'm furious the doctor would prescribe her more pain killers.

— I fell off the wagon at least 19 times but finally I got sober for good.

How to remember this idiom

First think of what a wagon is. A wagon is a wheeled vehicle used to carry heavy or bulky things. Here are some types of wagons:

Wagon carts, like in the picture at the right are often found on farms and transport all types of things like soil, foodstuff and heavy materials. Wagon cars on a train carry people and freight. Many children sit in little red wagons and others pull the handle to transport them around.

And wagons are often used to transport people. These wagons are usually pulled by animals (e.g., horses or donkeys) or by people riding bicycles.

Remember, the most frequent use of this idiom is to describe people who have started drinking alcohol again after not drinking for a period of time. These people often have a problem with drinking alcohol (alcoholics) and falling off the wagon presents a serious problem for them.

To remember this idiom, think of someone riding comfortably through life on the wagon. Things are going well and the person is able to go through life easily. However, if the person falls OFF the moving wagon, it would not be a good situation. They might even hurt themselves falling off the moving wagon. And they are no longer easily and comfortably moving through life.


  • on the wagon

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