go into a tailspin

go into a tailspin

 
1. Lit. [for an airplane] to lose control and spin to the earth, nose first. The plane shook and then suddenly went into a tailspin. The pilot was not able to bring the plane out of the tailspin, and it crashed into the sea.
2. . Fig. [for someone] to become disoriented or panicked; [for someone's life] to fall apart. Although John achieved great success, his life went into a tailspin. It took him a year to get straightened out. After her father died, Mary's world fell apart, and she went into a tailspin.

go into a tailspin

to quickly become worse The country's nickel industry went into a tailspin, with production falling for five years in a row. His career went into a tailspin when he joined the New York Mets.
Usage notes: sometimes used to describe someone's mental condition: I imagine the news sent Barry into a tailspin.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of tailspin (a sudden fall by an aircraft in which the back points up and the aircraft turns around and around)

go into a tailspin

Lose emotional control, collapse, panic. For example, If she fails the bar exam again, she's sure to go into a tailspin. This expression alludes to the downward movement of an airplane out of control, in which the tail describes a spiral. [Early 1900s]
References in periodicals archive ?
The timing for the JetHawks' starters to go into a tailspin could not be worse.