Sally: Tech-49, enter at headway speed.

Jack: Entering at headway. You buck up, Bob. Don't go all shaky on me.

Sally: Jack, I can't help notice your respiration and heart rate have increased.

Jack: I'm just excited to finally meet you, Sally.

Sally: There's been a pattern of insubordinate behavior recently.

Jack: Yeah. I feel bad about that.

Sally: Voice analysis indicates you are lying to me, Jack. Tell me why you are here. You have five seconds.

--Oblivion(movie) 2013

I have googled this. The result shows it is not an idiom.

Does "go" mean "get" here?

Does "all" function as an intensifier modifying "shaky"?

Does "on" mean "in the direction of" here?

More context:

Bob is the toy placed on the dashboard in the aircraft. When Jack flies the aircraft, Bob will get shaky because of the unsteady movement of the aircraft.

Sally is the evil alien space station orbiting the earth.

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


The idiom is "don't go all [noun/adjective] on me". It's an expression of dismay at the other person's behaviour - or, more precisely, the future behaviour that the speaker thinks might occur if they don't prevent it.

For example:

Is there anything about your house that, you know, kind of...freaks you out?

I just decided that for me, it's our dishwasher. It sings.

Now, don't go all Nancy Drew on me and decide to investigate this the next time you are at my house, because I'm pretty much positive that it will NOT sing when you want it to.

By "don't go all Nancy Drew on me", the writer means, "please don't actually investigate this". They thought that the reader might, after the previous paragraph, decide to investigate the dishwasher, and said "don't go all Nancy Drew on me" to mean:

  • if you do this, you'll be behaving like Nancy Drew (this is probably irony and/or exaggeration) and
  • I don't want you to do this

Another example:

She sighed, exhaling fifty years of dusty excuses that were a bit feeble even when she made them up. She picked up her knitting and started clicking the needles ferociously. 'I didn't go abroad again because there wasn't any point. Spain had been a silly teenage adventure. I accomplished nothing. Got my fingers well and truly burned. So I learned from my mistakes and stayed here.'

'But what did you accomplish by not going away again?'

'I made a life here. Are you saying that teaching accomplishes nothing?'

'Don't go all defensive on me, Mum. I'm trying to understand you. You were a brilliant teacher. Everybody says so.'

In this instance the daughter says, "Don't go all defensive on me" because

  • she thinks her mother is starting to become defensive from the line of questioning
  • she thinks her mother will become more defensive, or at least continue to be defensive
  • she doesn't want her mother to be so defensive


I wrote [noun/adjective] at the top, but the truth is this is usually used with an adjective.


  • Don't go all broody on me
  • Don't go all paranoid on me
  • Don't go all melodramatic on me
  • Don't go all dreamy on me
  • Don't go all geeky on me

Because the phrase as a whole is describing a type of behaviour, it can only be used with a noun when there's a certain type of behaviour associated with that noun. This could be a famous person (fictional or not) who is well-known for having a certain type of behaviour, or a stereotype of a certain type of person.


Some of these will not have a clear meaning from the sentence alone. The Boy Scout one is an obvious example of this - there are certain traits that could be inferred (for example over-preparedness) but you would need context to know for sure which trait was being criticized.

Your example

In your example, "Don't go all shaky on me" means,

  • Jack is concerned Bob may physically shake.
  • He doesn't want him to.

Bob may have started shaking, and Jack wants him to stop, or perhaps Bob hasn't started shaking yet, but Jack thinks that he will.

Since Bob is a toy, this is probably a sort of hope/prayer that's being spoken to Bob but not really directed at him - Jack is either talking to the machine as a whole, or hoping his own piloting will be steady enough that Bob doesn't shake.

  • I thought it should be the latter; Jack was quite nervous in that situation. An excellent answer!
    – Kinzle B
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 14:56
  • I haven't seen the scene, but since Bob is a toy (and I gather doesn't have agency or mood of its own), I assume that this is meant to be a depiction of psychological projection, and Jack is reassuring himself by means of this head game of attributing his own incipient shakiness to the toy and encouraging the toy to take heart. Usually depicted in children, who will disown unacceptable feelings such as fear, and attribute them to their toys, "I'm not scared, but Dolly is a bit." Commented May 28, 2014 at 4:20

Does "go" mean "get" here? Yes, in the sense that Bob is "becoming" shaky.

Does "all" function as an intensifier modifying "shaky"? It's an adjective meaning that "Shaky" applies in a general sense or "Shaky in general"

Does "on" mean "in the direction of" here? No. "On me/on him/etc" in this context is a phrase that implies somewhat of a dependence on or a link to the object or person performing the action. For example:

"My computer blew up on me"

...implying that "I" was using the computer when it blew up, or it blew up in spite of me, or it blew up when I needed it not to, or it blew up while I was there... etc.

There is no clear definition of this phrase, but it is common jargon and implies a connection between the two objects or persons involved. In this instance, "...on me", means "...when I want you to NOT get all shaky".

But in the end, there is no clear way to define the phrase "on me", because it depends on the context. It's meaning in many contexts is only truly understood through frequent experience with it.

  • Nice recap! Btw, what do you mean by "shaky in general"? Can you please explain that to me and give me some other examples?
    – Kinzle B
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 15:01
  • By "in general" I mean "in any part, way, shape or form". So in this instance "all shaky" means "shaky in any part, way, shape or form". This use of the word "all" is also frequently used in English. Ex: "My computer was all wonky." meaning "My computer was wonky in some part, way, shape, or form." Commented May 27, 2014 at 15:10
  • So this usage is to show what it turns out to be but we don't know how or why, right?
    – Kinzle B
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 15:16
  • 1
    Correct. We know that Bob is shaky, but the word all does not describe exactly how he is shaky, how he became shaky, or why he is shaky. We just know that, in one sense or another, he is shaky. (Or at least that Jack believes Bob's going to be, which is why he told Bob to NOT be shaky) Commented May 27, 2014 at 15:19
  • Come to think of it, I remember that "all" means "completely" or "very" when acting as an adverbial. I didn't find the entry in any dictionaries for your explanation. @Danegraphics
    – Kinzle B
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 15:20

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