Unleashing Boundless Energy: The Meaning of the Idiom “Full of Beans”

Idioms are a fascinating aspect of language, often providing colorful and imaginative ways to express ideas and concepts. One such idiom that has intrigued many is “full of beans”. Despite the literal interpretation suggesting a diet rich in legumes, the phrase actually has nothing to do with food. Instead, it is used to describe someone who is full of energy, enthusiasm, or liveliness. But how did this phrase come about, and what is its historical context? Let’s delve into the origins and meaning of the idiom “full of beans”.

Origins of the Idiom “Full of Beans”

The phrase “full of beans” is believed to have originated in the 19th century. The term “beans” was used in old English to refer to coins, particularly in the context of having or lacking money. However, the idiom as we know it today, meaning full of energy or liveliness, seems to have evolved from horse racing circles in the United States. Horses that were fed a diet rich in beans were often lively and energetic, hence the phrase “full of beans”.

Usage of the Idiom “Full of Beans”

The idiom “full of beans” is commonly used in English-speaking countries to describe someone who is energetic, lively, and enthusiastic. It is often used to describe children or young people who are full of energy and excitement. For example, “After eating all that candy, the kids were full of beans”.

Understanding the Idiom “Full of Beans”

Understanding idioms can be challenging, especially for non-native speakers, as they often cannot be understood literally. In the case of “full of beans”, it does not mean that someone has eaten a lot of beans, but rather that they are full of energy and enthusiasm. This idiom is a great example of how language can evolve and take on new meanings over time.


Idioms like “full of beans” add color and depth to our language, allowing us to express complex ideas in a simple and imaginative way. While the origins of these phrases can often be obscure and difficult to trace, understanding their meaning and usage can provide fascinating insights into the evolution of language and culture. So next time you hear someone described as being “full of beans”, you’ll know it’s a compliment to their energy and enthusiasm, rather than a comment on their dietary habits.