- off-year election
Origin of off-the-wall
verb (used with object)
Origin of 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
Word Origin for off-the-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.
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
- 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