go postal

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From go (to become) + postal (relating to the collection, sorting and delivery of mail), from a number of incidents, mostly gun violence, perpetrated by disgruntled U.S. Postal Service workers on co-workers in the United States in the mid 1980s.[1]



go postal (third-person singular simple present goes postal, present participle going postal, simple past went postal, past participle gone postal)

  1. (intransitive, chiefly US, informal) To become aggressive and erratic, especially due to stress; specifically, to carry out a shooting spree at a workplace environment; also (more generally) to become very angry; to lose one's temper.
    (to become aggressive and erratic): Synonym: run amok
    (to become very angry): Synonyms: see Thesaurus:lose one's temper
    • 1993 December 17, Karl Vick, “Violence at work tied to loss of esteem”, in St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.: The Times Publishing Co., →OCLC, page 4A, column 1:
      Violence that spills in from the streets may be less worrisome than the worker rampages, to judge by the attentive audience of personnel managers (and the consultants available for hire) at "A Growing American Phenomenon: Workplace Violence." The symposium was sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, which has seen so many outbursts that in some circles excessive stress is known as "going postal." Thirty-five people have been killed in 11 post office shootings since 1983.
      Recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary as the earliest occurrence of the term in print.



  1. ^ to go postal, phrase” under postal, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; go postal, phrase”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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