[ awf-thuh-wawl, of- ]
/ ˈɔf ðəˈwɔl, ˈɒf- /

adjective Informal.

markedly unconventional; bizarre; oddball: an unpredictable, off-the-wall personality.

Nearby words

  1. off-the-job,
  2. off-the-peg,
  3. off-the-rack,
  4. off-the-record,
  5. off-the-shelf,
  6. off-topic,
  7. off-trail,
  8. off-white,
  9. off-year,
  10. off-year election

Origin of off-the-wall

First recorded in 1970–75


[ wawl ]
/ wɔl /



verb (used with object)

Origin of wall

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English w(e)all < Latin vallum palisade, derivative of vallus stake, post; see wale1; (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun

Related formswall-less, adjectivewall-like, adjectiveun·wall, verb (used with object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for off the wall


/ (wɔːl) /


verb (tr)

Derived Formswalled, adjectivewall-less, adjectivewall-like, adjective

Word Origin for wall

Old English weall, from Latin vallum palisade, from vallus stake



(off the wall when postpositive) slang new or unexpected in an unconventional or eccentric wayan off-the-wall approach to humour

Word Origin for off-the-wall

C20: possibly from the use of the phrase in handball and squash to describe a shot that is unexpected

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

Word Origin and History for off the wall
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for off the wall


[ wôl ]


An investing part enclosing a cavity, chamber, or other anatomical unit.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with off the wall

off the wall

Eccentric, unconventional, as in That idea of opening a 100-seat theater is off the wall. This expression probably originated in baseball or some other sport in which the ball can bounce off a wall in an erratic way. [Colloquial; 1960s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with wall

  • walls have ears, the

also see:

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