tie (oneself) (up) in knots

tie (oneself) (up) in knots

1. To make oneself confused, anxious, worried, and/or upset, as when trying to make a decision, come up with an idea, or resolve an issue. Now don't go tying yourself in knots over the details of your papers — at this point, all you need is a cohesive outline. We've tied ourselves in up knots this past week trying to decide on who to hire, but I think we've reached a decision.
2. To become flustered while attempting to explain something (to someone). Jim's a smart guy, but for some reason he always ties himself up in knots whenever I ask him to explain something on the computer for me.
See also: knot, tie
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

tie someone (up) in knots

Fig. to become anxious or upset. John tied himself in knots worrying about his wife during her operation. This waiting and worrying really ties me up in knots.
See also: knot, tie
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

tie yourself in knots


tie yourself up in knots

If you tie yourself in knots or tie yourself up in knots, you make yourself confused or anxious, so you are not able to think clearly. The New York Times editorial page tied itself in knots trying to find the correct tone with which to treat the matter. Catherine is tying herself up in knots with worry because nine-year-old Alice has school phobia.
See also: knot, tie
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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