Rabbit Hole – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone not to waste their time looking into finding out information they can’t control? If so, you could ask them to stop looking down the “rabbit hole.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this phrase.

Meaning

The “rabbit hole” in “Alice in Wonderland” is a portal to another world. Alice falls through it, and while she does, she’s weightless and sees imagery around her. Over the last few decades, we’ve seen people using the term “rabbit hole” to describe a series of information they receive on an obscure, esoteric, or taboo topic.

Typically, the saying applies to conspiracy theories, such as 9/11. The expression also appears in the 21000 movies, “The Matrix,” where Morpheus, played by Lawrence Fishburne, asks Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, to “take the red pill,” and he will show him “how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Conspiracy theorists used this scene and the movie as the basis for forming the “red pill” philosophy dividing Americans and society at large.

The term “rabbit hole” can also mean going somewhere mentally and drifting away from consciousness. It can also mean entering a problematic or chaotic situation or a complex, challenging, or confusing journey. The term can also apply to being drawn into a strange scenario or a weird situation where you find it difficult to disengage from what’s happening around you.

Example Usage

“Here, Neo, take the red pill, and I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

“Let’s not go down that rabbit hole right now. I don’t have the time to sit here for four hours while you tell me about the complexities of offshore capital markets and how the rich avoid taxes.”

“What do you mean the leaders of the world are some giant cabal? Let’s not start jumping down the rabbit hole without any real evidence.”

“How deep the rabbit hole goes? No one knows.”

“I just spent 6-hours on YouTube going down some conspiracy theory rabbit hole, and I think my mind melted.”

Origin

The origin of the saying, “rabbit hole,” comes from the 1865 classic novel by Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Aka, “Alice in Wonderland,” the book is one of the most revered in western history, and many kids grew up reading the book or watching the movie.

During the story, Alice falls down a rabbit hole when out in the forest and finds herself transported to Wonderland. Therefore, the rabbit hole in the story is a portal to another dimension where Alice meets friends and has an adventure.

Phrases Similar to Rabbit Hole

  • Conspiracy theory.
  • Portal.

Phrases Opposite to Rabbit Hole

  • Plain view.
  • Nothing to hide.
  • Easy to understand.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Rabbit hole.

Ways People May Say Rabbit Hole Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with rabbit holes or rabbits. The saying comes from the classic novel “Alice in Wonderland,” where the rabbit hole was a gateway to a mystical realm beyond human comprehension.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Rabbit Hole

You can use the saying “rabbit hole” when you’re trying to describe an advanced topic that you have little knowledge of.

For instance, if someone asks you about geopolitics and inflation, you could say that you don’t want them to “take you down that rabbit hole” because you have no idea what they are talking about and how it applies to your situation.

It’s a common phrase with conspiracy theorists used to describe somewhat unbelievable concepts that can leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed at what you find.

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