noun Informal.

a quick look, examination, or appraisal.
a quick, superficial job: He gave the car just a once-over with a rag.

Origin of once-over

An Americanism dating back to 1910–15
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for once-over

checkup, examination, inspection, survey, appraisal

Examples from the Web for once-over

Contemporary Examples of once-over

Historical Examples of once-over

  • Were going to give this valley the once-over with a fine-toothed comb.

  • Every motor, machine and conveyor in the place was being given the once-over.

    The Shadow Passes

    Roy J. Snell

  • "And gave you the once-over in the big room," Chan declared.

  • But he came to immediate, and we all stood at attention while he give that bundle the once-over.

    Believe You Me!

    Nina Wilcox Putnam

  • How about it, Jeff—want to go along and give the big town the once-over or not?

    J. Poindexter, Colored

    Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb

British Dictionary definitions for once-over


noun informal

a quick examination or appraisal
a quick but comprehensive piece of work
a violent beating or thrashing (esp in the phrase give (a person or thing) the (or a) once-over)
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 once-over

"inspection," 1913, from once + over.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper