20 Similar Phrases to “Upset the Applecart”

‘Upset the applecart’ is an idiomatic expression that means to spoil, disrupt, or change a plan or arrangement, especially with bad effects.

It also refers to upsetting someone or disproving a theory or observation. So, when you say ‘upset the applecart’ while addressing someone, you mean to point out the conscious move to alter the direction or objective of a plan or even provoke someone.

However, you might need synonyms for this idiom, especially if you want to spice up your command of the English Language. That is where my similar phrases come in.

In this article, I will be showing you 20 similar phrases to ‘Upset the applecart’. Read on to know more!

20 Synonyms to ‘Upset the Applecart’

Some of the best similar phrases to ‘Upset the applecart’ include ‘Thwart the plan’, ‘Cause a stir’, ‘Disturb the balance’, ‘Turn things upside down’, ‘Rock the boat’, ‘Frustrate someone’, and ‘Aggravate someone’.

Given the aforementioned similar phrases to ‘Upset the applecart’, you can observe that I acknowledged the two variations of the idiom – taking into account both the part of disrupting plans and upsetting individuals.

However, there are more so let’s get to that without ado.

  • Turn things upside down
  • Go against the grain
  • Disturb the balance
  • Change the status quo
  • Cause a stir
  • Not conform
  • Thwart the plan
  • Obstruct the plan
  • Mess up a plan
  • Spoil an arrangement
  • Break the mold
  • Aggravate someone
  • Getting someone provoked
  • Buck the trend
  • Derail the plan
  • Make waves
  • Irritate someone
  • Frustrate someone
  • Shake things up
  • Rock the boat

1. Turn things upside down

‘Turn things upside down’ is a viable similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

To turn something upside down is to change the position of such things, oftentimes to a fault or detriment. It entails turning anything faced up to upside down which most times leaves disastrous effects.

Using this idiom in the place of ‘Upset the cart’ is intelligible because here you’re referring to disrupting a plan by turning everything upside down and not just taking the wheels off of a cart which means the same thing.

So, when you say this idiom instead of ‘Upset the cart’, you mean the same thing, just different approaches.

2. Go against the grain

‘Go against the grain’ is an even more descriptive phrase you can use in place of ‘Upset the applecart.

To go against the grain is to go in the opposite direction of a flow, arrangement, or plan. This singular act of going in the opposite direction of a principle, value, or natural disposition can exert unfavorable effects on a person or body of the plan.

Concerning the idiom in the discussion, using this phrase instead of ‘Upset the applecart’ shows that you’re not just picturing disrupting a plan, you’re also citing upsetting a person. While the former can be done by infiltrating the collective philosophy behind a plan, the latter comes in when you alter the principles of a person.

This action may result in a negative effect on the plan which is now compromised, or the individual who would now find it difficult to uphold their principle since it has been tampered with.

3. Disturb the balance

‘Disturb the balance’ is another impressive similar phrase you can employ instead of using ‘Upset the applecart’.

An applecart is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as a plan, system, or arrangement that can be disrupted, altered, or terminated. That is to say that any plan labeled as such is prone to being disrupted.

However, there’s a balance that is supposed to be observed with every plan and when it is no more, disintegration sets in.

That’s the basis on which ‘disturb the balance’ is taken as a viable similar phrase to ‘upset the applecart’. This is because you will be disturbing the balance of the plan or preparation.

4. Change the status quo

‘Change the status quo’ can be your preferred similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

Since ‘status quo’ refers to the order of things, changing it would cause disorder which means the same thing as ‘Upset the applecart’.

You can use this phrase instead of ‘Upset the cart’ if your audience is both formal and business. Other than that, using this phrase in the place of ‘Upset the applecart’ is only intelligible if you want to sound more assertive than usual.

5. Cause a stir

‘Cause a stir’ is yet another good similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

A stir simply means a disturbance or turbulence. To that degree, a stir can only be caused by something or someone for it to happen. When a stir is caused, there are risks of disorderliness or unsteadiness in the plan or principle of a group of people or persons.

Hence, employing this phrase as a synonym for ‘Upset the applecart’ is fitting because it conveys the same message as ‘Upset the applecart’ where a steady or organized state or medium is tampered with or disturbed.

However, here, causing a stir is the action taken here to alter the order of things.

6. Not conform

‘Not conform’ is a similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

Conformity is to agree to a certain way of doing something that has been in place for a long time. Perhaps, it could be a communal rite of passage or a religious doctrine. However, when one refuses to conform they cause a stir in their religious circle.

To this point, ‘not conform’ is a simple phrase that is similar to ‘Upset the applecart’. This is because when you decide to not conform, you disrupt the sanity of an existing system thus upsetting the applecart.

7. Thwart the plan

‘Thwart the plan’ and ‘Upset the applecart’ are synonyms.

Yes, you can use ‘thwart the plan’ in place of ‘Upset the applecart’ if you’re looking for similar phrases of the latter. This is because to thwart something is to tamper with its shape, direction, or pattern.

Thus, when you use this phrase instead of ‘upset the applecart’, you’re only referring to changing the course of a plan or organization. That makes it a synonym for ‘Upset the cart’ which shares the same meaning.

8. Obstruct the plan

‘Obstruct the plan’ just like the previous phrase is a viable similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’. This is because the last phrase dealt only with the part of the original phrase that concerns stopping or altering a plan.

Also, when you obstruct a plan you make it into something it is not. Thereby, both obstructing a plan and upsetting the apple cart are synonymous with each other.

9. Mess up a plan

‘Mess up the plan’ can be your chosen similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

This similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’ is a viable one because it addresses the side of upsetting the cart that has to do with changing a plan or even undoing a deed.

10. Spoil an arrangement

‘Spoil an arrangement’ is another crucial similar phrase you can use for ‘Upset the applecart’.

An arrangement is an orderly sequence of activities or plans. However, when an arrangement gets spoiled, it loses both its coherence and stability.

To this extent, spoiling an arrangement entails doing things differently, as well as putting things in disarray.

11. Break the mold

‘Break the mold’ is yet another phrase you can use in place of ‘Upset the applecart’.

According to Collins Dictionary, a mold is a pattern, a hollow form, or mold that gives a certain shape to something.

The specific use of every mold is to achieve a particular shape or form but once the mold is broken, it becomes hard to achieve that desired shape or form again.

To this end, it is understandable to use ‘Break the mold’ as a similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’. At least, using this phrase encapsulates the same message embedded in ‘Upset the Applecart’. 8cc5c94e

12. Aggravate someone

‘Aggravate someone’ is a plausible similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

Here, you mean to address the angle of ‘Upset the applecart’ which has to do with upsetting someone by going against their principles, and standards or even trying to bend them.

When you aggravate someone, you take them from a good state of mind to being agitated and that is an abnormal condition for a human being.

13. Getting someone provoked

‘Getting someone provoked’ is a similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

This is because it is one of the commonest phrases out there that talk about making someone to be provoked and angry.

It becomes a good pick for a similar phrase to ‘Upset the Applecart’ because it refers to the alteration of a person’s state of mind or principle which is the same message as in ‘Upset the Applecart’.  Therefore, you can use it if you want to flex other ways to say the idiomatic expression.

14. Buck the trend

‘Buck the trend’ comes up as a possible similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

This is heavily based on the nature of this phrase, which the Cambridge Dictionary defines to be different from the way that a situation, plan, or event is developing generally.

So, when you buck a trend, you either debunk its validity or you don’t even join in it like everyone else. And when this happens, you go against the usual arrangement or known settings of things which disrupts the entire process.

15. Derail the plan

‘Derail the plan’ can be your supposed similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

Using this phrase instead of the original phrase shows that the angle of consideration here is one that a thwarted plan. This is because to derail means to go in a different direction from the already existing one.

From the word, it means moving into a different rail line from the one on which the train has been running. And when this happens, there’s usually unsteadiness in the movement of the trains. So, when you derail a plan, you shake it up and may even turn things upside down.

16. Make waves

‘Make waves’ is a suitable similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

You can use it in the place of ‘Upset the applecart’ as it addresses the issue of changing the initial state of a medium which here is a water body.

To make waves is to stir up the altitude of a water body, particularly a sea or ocean. However, this is more of a plan or arrangement thing than that of the seas. Hence, making a wave means disrupting or attempting to disrupt the mapped-out plan.

17. Irritate someone

‘Irritate someone’ is a fine synonym to ‘Upset the applecart’. You can only irritate someone who’s not irritated, which means the person is supposedly in a good mood.

Thus, when you irritate someone you effect a change that is seemingly negative to the person – the same thing with upsetting the applecart.

18. Frustrate someone

‘Frustrate someone’ can serve as a similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

To frustrate means to be unsuccessful or thwart the plans of something or someone.

This means that you can use this phrase in the place of the original one because it conveys the same message as ‘Upset the applecart’.

19. Shake things up

‘Shake things up’ is a brilliant similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.

By using this phrase, you mean to address a side of ‘Upsetting the applecart’ which deals with disrupting a plan or arrangement. Thus, when you shake things up you’re changing things, introducing or removing new ones.

20. Rock the boat

‘Rock the boat’ is a sensitive phrase that passes for a similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’. When you use this phrase, you’re not referring to a boat but rather a plan, blueprint, or mission.

When you rock something, you change the direction, objective, or position of that said thing. Thus, making it plausible to use ‘rock the boat’ as a similar phrase to ‘Upset the applecart’.


You may have been on the search for the best of similar phrases to ‘Upset the applecart’ to spice up your command of the English Language. Since that has been the case, this article is discussed 20 similar phrases to ‘Upset the applecart’.

The synonyms for ‘Upset the applecart’ in this post are brilliant as they embody the message in this original phrase while introducing new and different perspectives to it.

All you have to do is to find and pick one or more similar phrases to ‘Upset the applecart’ and get on with it. This way, you won’t pass through the stress of memorizing all the similar phrases to the said idiomatic expression.

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