go into a tailspin

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go into a tailspin

1. Literally, to spiral to the ground, as of an airplane. The plane briefly went into a tailspin before the pilot was able to correct it.
2. By extension, to become emotionally unstable. Robin's so eager to go to Harvard that I'm worried she'll go into a tailspin if she doesn't get in.

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

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]