Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you heard somebody talk about “going down the rabbit hole” in English?

Is this a phrase that you want to understand, but you find a bit frustrating or complicated to figure out?

This is a phrase that may come up often in conversation, and so we’re going to show you some effective ways to use it.

We’re going to look at this concept, how to talk about it, and how to express this sort of thing in your conversations.

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We have a listener question about this phrase that may be very helpful to you.

Hello ladies!

I want to thank you, because I enjoy your podcast very much! I learn something on the show all the time. I have a question for you that I am hoping you can help to answer. Recently, I heard the idiom “go down the rabbit hole” used quite a bit on the podcast when talking about a sustainable lifestyle.

I think it’s the podcaster’s personal style, but she uses it often on the show. I’ve heard her say things like “Before we go down the rabbit hole, let’s go back to the topic.” Is it common to say this term? I’m a bit confused about how to use it, and I could use your help.

Thanks for your help and your great show!


Using This Common Phrase

This is a common phrase and though it may sound a bit confusing, it can actually be a really great way to speak like the natives after you learn it.

There are a few ways this phrase is used, and so you may hear it in conversation quite a bit.

Today we are going to talk about one major way, as that is what you may get the most use out of.

It’s about continuing to learn about something or talk about something excessively, and it may actually be to the extent that it is wasting time.

You start talking about something or learning about something, and it keeps leading you to more and more things.

This is the main context, and it really speaks to the fact that you can get caught up in something and lose track of how tied to it you are after awhile.

It’s not bad to take an interest in something or to talk about something, but it can take over after awhile as you discover more and more things in this area.

You may have gone into a certain topic or area with one focus, but you quickly find that there are so many different things to learn and talk about.

It’s happened to all of us, and so you want to be aware when you are “heading down that rabbit hole.”

You can check out this episode to hear some other ways to express this.

Go Down Today’s Rabbit Hole With IELTS Vocabulary

Examples of When This May Be Used

There are instances where this concept may come into play.

You may find yourself in certain situations where you “ go down the rabbit hole” and don’t even realize it—as that happens all too often!

It’s as if you get sucked in or you lose track of what you are doing, and thus this concept continues on.

There are some things that can lead you down a rabbit hole, and here we look at examples of when this may be used.

  • Social media: It’s so easy to go onto social media to look for one thing, and then suddenly you get sucked in. This happens with YouTube especially, and one thing leads to the next and then the next. It can be a time sucker and you don’t even realize how far down the rabbit hole you go. You may say “I was looking for videos on English slang when I found myself down the rabbit hole and I went to sleep at 3am.”
  • Talking points at a meeting: You may be in a meeting and suddenly you realize that people have gotten off track. You may start heading in a completely different direction or go in depth on a certain topic. That’s when you might say “That’s a good point, but I don’t think we should go down that rabbit hole just yet. We have too much to get to first.”
  • Shopping: You may go into Target or Costco and it is often for one thing. Suddenly you realize that you are coming out of this store with far too many things, many of which you didn’t even know you needed. You could say “I stopped in for some Windex and then I went down the rabbit hole and came out with 300 dollars less to my name.”
  • “Doom Scrolling:” You may do this or you might have even heard this expression, or you may have heard “doom surf.” This has become common especially during the pandemic where you go to research a news story and then suddenly you keep reading more and more bad news. You are suddenly immersed in all sorts of bad news and can’t seem to get out of it.

These are all examples of times when you might “go down a rabbit hole” and spend more time and effort on something than you anticipated.

Tips For Avoiding This

There are some helpful ways to ensure that you don’t fall into this trap.

Though you may wish to avoid this behavior or tendency, it may be difficult.

If you follow these tips, it can help you to ensure that you don’t get stuck in a trap.

Try these and you will be sure to keep a level head and avoid the temptation of heading down a certain path.

  • Tear yourself away: You may have to start by forcing yourself to put a limit on the activity. You may have to actually set yourself some tangible limit so that you aren’t stuck wasting hours on this. Make yourself physically move away from whatever it is, and then you will be much happier later. Don’t make any exceptions though!
  • Find something else to do: When you feel the temptation to do something like getting on social media for example, find something else to do that you enjoy. You want to take the emphasis off of whatever this tempting activity is, and so it must be a good substitution. Think of things such as exercise, playing a game of chess, doing a crossword, or even calling a friend. It’s a great way to distract yourself, and it can work to shift your focus.
  • Keep your phone out of your room at night: If your phone is at the center of the problem, then just remove it from the situation. Do your best to keep your phone out of your room at night, and then you won’t be as likely to waste a lot of time on it. Though you may struggle with this at first, you will get used to it and be happy that you did it.


Today we answered a question about the rabbit hole and discussed the idea of doom scrolling– as there is really too much negative news and information out there.

Though it can be easy to get sucked into a rabbit hole, you can avoid that temptation with the right mindset and using these tips.

You want to be aware of the things that suck your time and energy away from you, so that you can stay ahead of them.

This is a common situation that you may find yourself in, and it is sure to come up in conversation—knowing how to talk about it is so important and can be great for making connections.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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