come apart at the seams

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come apart at the seams

1. To be approaching failure. Boy, this party is really coming apart at the seams. First, there was the issue with the caterer, and now half the guests aren't coming.
2. To become very emotional. Poor Jane really came apart at the seams during the funeral service. I can't watch those sappy movies because I just come apart at the seams every time.
See also: apart, come, seam
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

come apart at the seams

Also, come unglued or unstuck . Become extremely upset; break down. For example, After he lost his job Brad seemed to come apart at the seams or The proposed bank merger is coming unglued, or When her last play flopped she became completely unstuck. This idiom transfers physical to emotional disintegration. [Slang; mid-1900s]
See also: apart, come, seam
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

come apart at the seams

1. If a system or relationship comes apart at the seams it completely fails. Note: The seams of a piece of clothing are the places where the separate pieces of cloth used to make it are stitched together. Our relationship was coming apart at the seams — we were quarrelling the whole time. Note: You can also say that something falls apart at the seams. Britain's university system is in danger of falling apart at the seams because of cuts in government funding.
2. If someone is coming apart at the seams, they have stopped being able to manage their life because they are very unhappy or under so much stress. Note: The seams of a piece of clothing are the places where the separate pieces of cloth used to make it are stitched together. He stood for a moment, breathing deeply; he was coming apart at the seams, something he had never thought would happen to him.
See also: apart, come, seam
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

come (or fall) apart at the seams

1 (of a thing) fall to pieces. 2 (of a person); have an emotional breakdown; collapse. informal
Seams are the lines along which pieces of fabric or the planks of a boat are joined, perceived as the points most likely to be damaged or weakened.
See also: apart, come, seam
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

come/fall apart at the ˈseams

(informal) begin to fail or collapse: The Government’s economic policy is falling apart at the seams.After only six months, their marriage has come apart at the seams.
If a piece of clothing comes apart at the seams, it begins to separate along the lines where the pieces of cloth are sewn together.
See also: apart, come, fall, seam
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

come apart at the seams, to

To become disordered; to go to pieces. This graphic analogy to a garment becoming, as it were, unsewn, is American and dates from the mid-twentieth century. “In a few instances when I thought that I would come apart at the seams . . . I managed to make the director listen” (Josef von Sternberg, Fun in a Chinese Laundry, 1965, an account of making a movie).
See also: apart, come
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
As Murray warns, "Our nation is coming apart at the seams - not ethnic seams, but the seams of class."
Murray says that America is "coming apart at the seams, not seams of race of ethnicity, but of class." These classes are "different in kind and in their degree of separation from anything that the nation has ever known." There have always been rich and poor.
And according to "truthful" news reports from Iran, The protest movement in Israel is 'anti-Zionist" and further proof that the "Zionist regime is coming apart at the seams".
Win Win is a heartbreaking account of a family coming apart at the seams and the emotionally wounded teenager who unexpectedly provides the catalyst for change.
SHOWING: Cineworld & Showcase VERDICT: Win Win is a heart-breaking account of a family coming apart at the seams and the emotionally wounded teenager who provides the catalyst for change
Because of the cotton bond paper it was printed on, not wood pulp paper like most present-day works, Sanders said the remaining pages have been well-preserved albeit literally coming apart at the seams
Center for Strategic and International Studies fellow Aram Nerguizian, who wrote the book on this subject, told Foreign Policy the Lebanese Army was the only cross-sectarian institution with any legitimacy in the country -- and thus the only force that could prevent Lebanon from coming apart at the seams. "If it were not for [US] security assistance, given the budgetary constraints in Lebanon C* and given the continued political discord, it would be very difficult for the Lebanese Army to maintain its current level of military operational tempo," he said.
grey, unwashed, string vest, tatty headband and an old jacket coming apart at the seams.
A WARDWINNING Brazilian director Walles Sales (The Motorcycle Diaries) ventures into the slums of Sao Paolo for this poignant tale of a family coming apart at the seams, codirected by Daniela Thomas.
Lehman Brothers alone employs about 26,000 people."Ironically some of the sectors that have been prospering regionally to date are the same ones that are coming apart at the seams overseas," said Rabea Ataya, CEO of Middle East job site, bayt.com.
You end up with Peter Ohren's character, Todd Foster, in his new book, "Motor City Blues." Todd is an exasperating 25-year-old law student at Wayne State University in the 1990s, whose life is slowly coming apart at the seams. Each chapter takes the reader along with Todd down through one mistake after another, until the roof finally, and literally, caves in on him.
No matter whether they've been wounded and need follow-up care and support, or whether they're coming apart at the seams and feeling suicidal, they face backlogs as long as six months for an appointment to be evaluated and helped at VA medical centers.
FROM FA Cup giantkillers to Conference whipping boys, Tamworth's season is in danger of coming apart at the seams.
Monitors and TVs began coming apart at the seams almost by themselves.