Cabin Fever Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Wondering what it means when someone says they have cabin fever? Keep reading — here’s our complete guide on the word cabin fever.

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When the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people into isolation via social distancing and lockdown, many people claimed to have cabin fever. That said, what does cabin fever mean? 

In the English language, there are a ton of idioms — AKA, a phrase or expression that’s not meant to be taken literally. Cabin fever is just one of many of these idioms. Keep reading to discover more about cabin fever and its origin. 

What Is the Definition of Cabin Fever?

If we look at the Cambridge English Dictionary (or any other trusted dictionary), we see that cabin fever can be defined as the feeling of being bored (and often angry!) due to being kept indoors for too long.

In recent times the popular expression cabin fever has been used to explain a feeling of listlessness or general boredom. The coronavirus and the COVID-19 Pandemic are chiefly to blame; however, those are not the true symptoms.

Cabin fever is an extreme restlessness after living in isolation or being kept in a singular confined indoor area for a lengthy period, making you feel as though you are cut off from the world.

Is Cabin Fever a Real Disease?

So, is cabin fever a real disease? In short, no. 

Although it’s not a recognized psychological illness, cabin fever’s physical, emotional, and behavioral effects are very real — and in some cases, they can even significantly affect an individual’s quality of life. 

Some of the many reported effects of cabin fever may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Food cravings
  • Lack of patience
  • Frequent napping
  • Lethargy
  • Irritable 
  • Restless
  • Sadness

You see, cabin fever is a state of mind. It can encompass strong feelings of:

  • Boredom
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loneliness

Any Tips to Help Combat Cabin Fever?

More often than not, the symptoms of cabin fever are generally mild, and taking active steps to fight against these less-than-favorable feelings is enough to pull you out of your slump. 

Always remember that if these feelings are impacting you more and more as time proceeds — or if they have begun to affect your daily routine — seek the assistance of a mental health professional like a therapist.

That said, if you’re dealing with cabin fever, these tips listed below may help:

  • Develop routines and stick to them
  • Stick to a healthy diet
  • Find a good work-life balance
  • Stay physically active
  • Get some sunshine

What Is the Origin of Cabin Fever?

Now that you know what cabin fever is, you might wonder where exactly the idiom came from. Cabin fever has no definitive origin; however, most accredit its first recorded use to BM Bower and the January 1918 publication called Cabin Fever.

Examples of Cabin Fever Used in a Sentence

By now, you likely have a pretty good understanding of what the idiom cabin fever means. 

Try using our word of the day in a sentence to see if you can use it properly. If you feel stuck or need a little help, check out our example sentences listed below:

According to CNN, cabin fever can now be associated with claustrophobia and difficulty concentrating.

Despite having a ton of social media apps, I still have cabin fever.

After many years of psychiatry, my dedicated team of healthcare professionals and I discovered that seasonal affective disorder was the culprit behind my cabin fever during the winter.

I knew once I had feelings of anxiety, for my well-being, I needed to get my brain to release some endorphins so I could nip this cabin fever in the bud.

Winter depression or cabin fever has set in after the long winter we just had, but the sleeplessness and lack of physical activity grinds my gears.

Other Common Idioms

As mentioned earlier, cabin fever is just one of many idioms. Some of the other well-known and lesser-known idioms and their meanings include:

  • Hit the books — To have a lot of studying to do
  • Twist someone’s arm — To convince another to do something after you’ve repeatedly pleaded your case
  • Go cold turkey — To suddenly stop 
  • Blow off steam — To rid yourself of strong feelings of stress or anger
  • Cut to the chase — To skip to the important parts of a conversation
  • Up in the air — Used to define when plans have not been definitively made
  • Ants in your pants — When you just can not sit still
  • Plenty of fish in the sea — Used to reference the vast amount of dating prospects in the world
  • Monkey business — A reference for goofing off, usually breaking the rules


In short, cabin fever is used to define the many psychological symptoms that we may experience if we are unable to leave our homes for a drawn-out period. 

So if you have had to stay in due to the pandemic and the Coronavirus and you have been feeling unmotivated, lethargic, or just overly irritable, you just might be able to blame it on the word of the day — cabin fever!


  1. CABIN FEVER: definition | Cambridge English Dictionary
  2. 100 American Idioms: Popular US Expressions Explained | Your Dictionary
  3. Cabin Fever synonyms : Words and Phrases for Cabin Fever | Power Thesaurus