Backseat Driver

Meaning

What does Backseat Driver mean?

The phrase Backseat Driver is commonly used to describe a passenger who takes it upon themselves to excessively comment on the driver’s actions and decisions while not actually controlling the vehicle. This type of passenger is often seen as a nuisance, as their comments can be distracting and even dangerous.

The term has been in use since the early 20th century and has become a well-known idiomatic expression in the English language.

It is often used in a humorous or lighthearted way to describe someone who is overly critical or controlling in a situation where they have no authority. So, if you ever find yourself in the passenger seat of a car, remember not to be a “Backseat Driver” and let the driver do their job without unnecessary comments or interference.

Backseat driver

Origin

What's the origin of Backseat Driver?

Originating in the United States in the 1920s during the advent of the automobile, the phrase “Backseat Driver” refers to a person who gives unwanted advice or instructions while riding in a car.

The first figurative use of the term was found in the 1921 December edition of the Bismarck Tribune, which read: “A backseat driver is the pest who sits on the rear cushions of a motor car and tells the driver what to do…”

The phrase, although initially describing an obnoxious passenger, has since been extended to situations where a person offers unsolicited advice or instruction, regardless of whether they are in a moving vehicle or not. As such, the term has become a go-to phrase for describing the person in any group who constantly tries to give advice, but is rarely listened to.

Spread & Usage

How did Backseat Driver spread?

The use of the phrase “Backseat Driver” became widespread in the mid-20th century, and it is now used as an idiomatic expression for people who meddle in the business of others, instead of acting themselves. Backseat Driver” can be used in a variety of situations, both positive and negative, but it is most commonly used to describe someone who is being annoying or intrusive.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where someone is constantly offering unwanted advice or commentary, you can ask them to stop being a “Backseat Driver.”

External resources

Ginger – Backseat Driver

Urban Dictionary – Backseat Driver

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