The EASI NETWORK, our TEFL teaching Group, is connected via a private Facebook Group. One of the trainers, who will remain nameless, posted the following message about a week ago.
‘ Does anybody actually say ‘don’t break my balls’ in English or is it just a funny translation from Italian. I’ve been here so long, I don’t know. My production boys want to know :)))’
This was such an important question that a slew of replies soon followed:-)))
The expression means that you are bothering someone or that you are causing them trouble.
The Scottish and British trainers confirm that it is not a BE expression and one actually said that her relatives think she is a weirdo when she uses it.
The American, Canadian and Irish ladies confirm that it is commonly used in the States.
I figure it has to be an Italian expression that was adapted to American English post war or something like that.
Here are a few variations:
- Don’t break my balls! (related to testicles)
- Don’t bust my chops!
- He is a ball buster.
Be careful when you use it because it does have a South-of-the-border allusion!
In Italian, one would say:
- Non mi rompere le scatole/palle.
- Non scocciare.
p.s. Apologies for the crude language above but it seemed like an interesting colloquial expression to share. I hope it has not offended anyone.