Breaking My Balls – Meaning, Origin & Example Sentences

If you’re here, you’ve probably been indulging in some 90s mafia films and stumbled upon an unfamiliar, and rather rude, phrase.

That, or you’re just into some really weird online content. No judgment. A little judgment. Let’s talk about the meaning of the phrase “breaking my balls”.

Breaking My Balls – Meaning

The expression “breaking my balls” can mean multiple things. If you were to use this phrase, it could mean that you are heavily exerting yourself (“I’m breaking my balls!”), or it could mean that someone is antagonizing or nagging you in some way (“You’re breaking my balls!”).

breaking my balls meaning

For obvious reasons, the expression “breaking my balls” isn’t the classiest we’ve come across. “Balls”, for the purposes of this expression, literally refer to a male’s testicles. If you’re feeling a phantom pain in your nether regions at the very idea, you’re not alone.

Happily, however, the expression is not meant to be literal. So, let’s see some examples of how to use “breaking my balls” in a sentence.

According to the Free Dictionary by Farlex, to “break (one’s) balls” means “to exert oneself to the utmost degree”:

  • I am breaking my balls at the quarry this summer, trying to earn money for my classes.
  • This dissertation, man! It’s breaking my balls – it’s due tomorrow and I have 3 pages left!

It can also mean “to harass, harangue, or pressure one about something”:

  • Person 1: I asked for those photographs an hour ago – what’s the hold-up?
  • Person 2: Quit breaking my balls, I’m working on it!

Finally, it can mean “to tease” or to “give one a hard time”:

  • That guy at my school is always breaking my balls in front of everyone. I think I’ll egg his car.
  • Sorry, mate, I was only breaking your balls. All in good fun!

Breaking My Balls – Origin

The phrase “breaking my balls” actually stems from a practice in the cattle industry, where bulls are castrated to keep them docile. So, we know where the literal meaning of this phrase comes from, but what about the figurative one?

Most people recognize the phrase “breaking my balls” from the 1990 film, Goodfellas. It was Billy Batts who said this version of the phrase in the film:

  • Hey, Tommy, if I was gonna break your balls, I’d tell you to go home and get your shine box.

Breaking My Balls – Similar Quotes

A similar phrase to breaking my balls is “busting my balls”. This phrase was also said in Goodfellas by multiple characters:

  • Just don’t go busting my balls, Billy, okay?
  • You hear me, I gotta come here and you bust my balls?

Correct Ways to Say “Breaking My Balls”

There are a number of ways that you can use “breaking my balls”. As we’ve said above, it can be used to suggest that you are working particularly hard, or it can mean someone is teasing or bothering you:

  • I’m breaking my balls here!
  • Quit breaking my balls.
  • Could you stop busting my balls for a minute?

Incorrect Ways to Use “Breaking My Balls”

The phrase “breaking my balls” isn’t intended to be used literally, either in terms of anatomy or other kinds of balls.

So, if you own a bowling alley, and the patrons are causing some damage to the bowling equipment by throwing the bowling ball too hard, you might cause some confusion if you shout, “Hey! Quit breaking my balls!”

In What Situations Can You Use “Breaking My Balls”?

“Breaking my balls” can be used to express that you are working very hard at something. It can also be used to say that someone is antagonizing you or asking too much from you.

This phrase seems particularly popular amongst 90s mafia types and should not be used in formal settings. It’s a tad crude, after all!