wind someone up



  • verb to provoke, tease, deceive someone. A London working-class usage which became fashionable at the end of the 1970s in raffish circles. It described the sort of straightfaced manipulation of a victim which discomfits increasingly; the image is probably that of winding up a clockwork toy or tightening a winch. By the early 1980s the phrase was in widespread colloquial use and was generalised to encompass mockery, deliberate irritation, etc.

Idiom of “wind someone up”

make someone angry, sometimes deliberately; tease someone