In trouble


What's the meaning of the phrase 'In trouble'?

A euphemism for pregnant – especially when out of wedlock.

What's the origin of the phrase 'In trouble'?

Victorian England wasn’t as socially hidebound and coy as it is popularly supposed, but this euphemism did originate there.

In 1891, Thomas Hardy wrote this in Tess of the D’Urbervilles:

“On no account do you say a word of your Bygone Trouble to him… Many a woman – some of the Highest in the Land – have had a Trouble in their time.”

The same year, the Daily News included this in a report:

“She said she consented to come to London to be married to the prisoner as she believed she was in trouble.”

Trend of in trouble in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.