off the beam


Off course, on the wrong track, as in He's way off the beam with that argument. This colloquial term and its antonym, on the beam, meaning “on the right track,” allude to directing aircraft by means of radio beams. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.