Try Our Apps


Famous Last Words


[too-bahy-fawr, -fohr, -buh-] /ˈtu baɪˌfɔr, -ˌfoʊr, -bə-/
two units thick and four units wide, especially in inches.
Informal. lacking adequate space; cramped:
a small, two-by-four room.
Informal. unimportant; insignificant:
Theirs was a petty, two-by-four operation.
a timber measuring 2 by 4 inches (5 × 10 cm) in cross section, when untrimmed: equivalent to 1 5/8 by 3 5/8 inches (4.5 × 9 cm) when trimmed.
Origin of two-by-four
An Americanism dating back to 1880-85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for two-by-four
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There isn't much room for the Triangle in a two-by-four shack.

    The Prairie Wife Arthur Stringer
  • I say, Phil, should this two-by-four go in with the big side out, or the narrow?

    The Winning Touchdown Lester Chadwick
  • At the third jump his hat flew off, disclosing the jagged end of a two-by-four.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • Thats what comes of blatting things in a two-by-four burg like this.

    The Bail Jumper Robert J. C. Stead
  • The only way to change the hearts of most plutocrats is to hit them over the head with a two-by-four.

    The Vision Spendid William MacLeod Raine
  • The top is made out of a piece of two-by-four with bevelled mortises cut in two sides of each end as in Fig. 10.

    The Boy Craftsman A. Neely Hall
  • This platform should be fastened to the first, with the end which has not been battened secured to the two-by-four at C.

    The Boy Craftsman A. Neely Hall
  • Using the two-by-four as a fulcrum, he began levering the door upward and outward.

  • And time after time Stud brought the two-by-four crashing down between the maddened animal's eyes.

    Plowing On Sunday Sterling North
British Dictionary definitions for two-by-four


a length of untrimmed timber with a cross section that measures 2 inches by 4 inches
a trimmed timber joist with a cross section that measures 11/2 inches by 31/2 inches
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for two-by-four



Small; insignificant; inferior; two-bit: We stopped at a two-by-four hotelnearthetracks (entryform1896+,variant1930s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for two-by-four

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for two

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for two-by-four