verb (used with object)
- to be defeated in a conflict or competition; yield.
- to fail in business, especially to become bankrupt.
- to be put aside or forgotten.
- to take an extreme and determined position or measure: I'd go to the wall to stop him from resigning.
- beyond the realm of acceptability or reasonableness: The figure you quoted for doing the work is off the wall.
- markedly out of the ordinary; eccentric; bizarre: Some of the clothes in the fashion show were too off the wall for the average customer.
- placed against a wall to be executed by a firing squad.
- in a crucial or critical position, especially one in which defeat or failure seems imminent: Unless sales improve next month, the company will be up against the wall.
Origin of wall
Synonyms for wall
- a vertical construction made of stone, brick, wood, etc, with a length and height much greater than its thickness, used to enclose, divide, or support
- (as modifier)wall hangings Related adjective: mural
Word Origin for wall
"to enclose in a wall," late Old English *weallian, from the source of wall (n.). Related: Walled; walling.
Old English weall "rampart" (natural as well as man-made), also "defensive fortification around a city, side of a building, interior partition," an Anglo-Frisian and Saxon borrowing (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wal) from Latin vallum "wall, rampart, row or line of stakes," apparently a collective form of vallus "stake." Swedish vall, Danish val are from Low German.
In this case, English uses one word where many languages have two, e.g. German Mauer "outer wall of a town, fortress, etc.," used also in reference to the former Berlin Wall, and wand "partition wall within a building" (cf. the distinction, not always rigorously kept, in Italian muro/parete, Irish mur/fraig, Lithuanian muras/siena, etc.).
Phrase up the wall "angry, crazy" is from 1951; off the wall "unorthodox, unconventional" is recorded from 1966, American English student slang. Wall-to-wall (adj.) recorded 1953, of carpeting; metaphoric use (usually disparaging) is from 1967.
climb the walls
Show extreme frustration, impatience, or anxiety, as in That long, boring banquet made me want to climb the walls, or If he says that one more time I'll be ready to climb the walls. Although describing a military maneuver dating from ancient times, this slangy phrase has been used figuratively to express strong negative feeling only since about 1970. Also see under drive someone crazy.
In addition to the idioms beginning with wall
- walls have ears, the
- back to the wall
- beat one's head against the wall
- between you and me and the lamppost (four walls)
- climb the walls
- drive someone crazy (up the wall)
- fly on the wall
- go to the wall
- handwriting on the wall
- hole in the wall
- off the wall
- run into a stone wall