When somebody is nervous, or easily irritable, in Italian you would say avere la luna di traverso which Google Translate translates with "have the moon across." (It seems Google Translate gives the literal translation, rather than an equivalent expression.)

I looked for any expression using moon, but I found is over the moon which has the opposite meaning of what I am trying to say, and moon used as verb, in phrases similar to "lying in bed eating candy, mooning around" for which I cannot say if it is said in a positive way, or a negative way.

Another, similar expression used in Italian is avere un diavolo per capello, which Google Translate translates as "have a devil for hair."

Is there an equivalent expression I could use in this case?

  • 1
    What does "having the moon" represent? For example "over the moon" implies you are high, i.e. happy. Across could be interpreted as sideways or askance, as well, according Google Translate.
    – Matt Ellen
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 14:35
  • 3
    Word Reference gives the option "got up on the wrong side of bed".
    – Matt Ellen
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 14:43
  • Avere ("to have"), and essere ("to be") are verbs normally used in Italian, and they are also auxiliary verbs. For example, "I am asleep" becomes io ho sonno (literally, "I have sleep [noun]"), and "I am hungry" becomes _io ho fame" (literally, "I have hungriness").
    – apaderno
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 14:54
  • @tchrist What I meant when I said "another, similar expression" is that avere un diavolo per capello means the same as avere la luna di traverso: When you use one, you could use the other.
    – apaderno
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 14:58
  • 1
    @WendiKidd If it is not differently specified, the person is irritable in that moment.
    – apaderno
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 16:25

7 Answers 7


As you specified in comments that the phrase refers to someone who is irritable at a given moment, not in general, I think what you're looking for is this:

-Person A does or says something that makes others feel he is being irritable and grumpy/rude.

-Person B: "Looks like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning."

The phrase seems to be similar in meaning to your original Italian expression. The basic idea is that someone is acting uncharacteristically rude or grumpy, and others are surprised by and unhappy with this behavior.


You can use the words anxious, cranky, grumpy.


A coarse expression that conveys this sentiment is "to have a hair across one's ass." It describes someone who is in a generally irritable or "pissy" mood, and can be used both for someone who tends to have that kind of disposition as well as someone who is just having an angry day.

It doesn't have the connotation of nervousness though. "Having one's panties in a knot" or "knickers in a twist" is similar, slightly less coarse, and also implies that the person is high-strung and possibly over-reacting to the situation.

None of these is suitable for polite company however.


Moonstruck (not the 'in love' kind) seems to have some of the sentiments you are trying to capture. It's not as close as jittery or high-strung in definition, but closer metaphorically.


Try high-strung, edgy, restless, tense, agitated, antsy, distraught, frantic.

If you give some more context, I could suggest something more narrowly matching your request as these all have different connotations.

Definitely avoid using moon as a verb. The most common usage of mooning someone means showing them your naked butt.


Synonyms for nervous: [be] jittery, [have] the jitters, [have] butterflies in [my] stomach, [be] uptight

Synonyms for easily irritable: [be] moody, [be] uptight, [be] irritable, [be] grouchy, to have a short fuse, [be] cantankerous, [be] crabby.

There are probably many other synonyms. The only term I can think of that means both nervous and easily irritable is uptight.


The moon is sometimes associated with making people "crazy." (Hence the references to a "lunatic" or a "looney" person.)

The Italian phrase roughly translates into: "The moon has a hold of him." He's acting rather "erratically."

An equivalent (colloquial) English expression might be: "He's got ants in his pants."

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