fall over oneself

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fall over oneself (third-person singular simple present falls over oneself, present participle falling over oneself, simple past fell over oneself, past participle fallen over oneself)

  1. To be unusually enthusiastic.
    • 1948, Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain, 1999 edition, →ISBN, page 317:
      Catholic families in the town were falling over themselves in their anxiety to invite the young Franciscans to come and sit in their parlors and be made much of, with cookies and soft drinks.
    • 2004, David Walsh, Why Do They Act That Way?, 2005 Free Press edition, →ISBN, page 250:
      As long as we don't fall over ourselves to congratulate our adolescent every time she wipes her feet on the mat, a well-placed and consistent "thank you," a compliment, or a sign of appreciation can go a long way.
    • 2007, Jeffrey Rosen, The Supreme Court: The personalities and rivalries that defined America, →ISBN, page 53:
      On the contrary, instead of wholeheartedly defending Chase, Marshall fell over himself to accommodate his accusers.

Usage notes[edit]

  • This is usually followed by to and a verb, as in the examples.
  • There are also literal meanings of the phrase, parsed as fall over, which see, plus oneself.