a roller coaster | a roller-coaster ride

This page is about the idiom a roller coaster | a roller-coaster ride.

Meaning: You can say an experience is a roller coaster, or a roller-coaster ride, if it involves many emotional highs and lows, or really good times alternating with really difficult times.

For example:

  • The movie follows a young guy's emotional roller-coaster ride as he tries to come to terms with being gay in a small town in Australia.

  • Eric writes about the roller coaster of rock and roll, with the highs of success and fame followed by the lows of drug addiction and depression.

Note: If used to modify a noun or a noun phrase, a hyphen is used, as in "a roller-coaster ride".

Origin: Related to the fact that a roller-coaster ride has many steep climbs and falls, and riding one at high speed is both exciting and terrifying.

Quick Quiz:

Ben says his life was a roller-coaster ride while

a. he was living in an amusement park

b. he was staying in a cottage in the countryside

c. he was getting divorced and changing his job

Idiom of the Day

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Contributor: Matt Errey