one's marbles

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one's marbles pl (plural only)

  1. One's sanity.
    I don't think he's got his marbles.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XXI, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      “A nice imbroglio you've landed me in. Thanks to you ...” “Yes, sir.” “Don't say ‘Yes, sir.’ Thanks to you I have been widely publicized as off my rocker.” “Not widely, sir. Merely to your immediate circle now resident at Brinkley Court.” “You have held me up at the bar of world opinion as a man who has not got all his marbles.” “It was not easy to think of an alternative scheme, sir.”
    • 2005, Sue Henry, The Serpents Trail, page 86:
      There are times when you are certain that the person speaking to you has completely misplaced his marbles. As I leaned away in reaction I felt confident [] Ed had lost his.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often with all, as in the quotation.
  • Almost always with have, lose, and certain synonyms.
to lose one's marbles


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