off-the-wall

[ 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

wall

[ wawl ]
/ wɔl /

noun

adjective

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)

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for off the wall

wall

/ (wɔːl) /

noun

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

adjective

(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

wall

[ wôl ]

n.

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]

wall

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.