verb (used with object)


    climb (the) walls, Slang. to become tense or frantic: climbing the walls with boredom.
    drive/push to the wall, to force into a desperate situation; humiliate or ruin completely: Not content with merely winning the match, they used every opportunity to push the inferior team to the wall.
    go over the wall, Slang. to break out of prison: Roadblocks have been set up in an effort to capture several convicts who went over the wall.
    go to the wall,
    1. to be defeated in a conflict or competition; yield.
    2. to fail in business, especially to become bankrupt.
    3. to be put aside or forgotten.
    4. to take an extreme and determined position or measure: I'd go to the wall to stop him from resigning.
    hit the wall, (of long-distance runners) to reach a point in a race, usually after 20 miles, when the body's fuels are virtually depleted and willpower becomes crucial to be able to finish.
    off the wall, Slang.
    1. beyond the realm of acceptability or reasonableness: The figure you quoted for doing the work is off the wall.
    2. markedly out of the ordinary; eccentric; bizarre: Some of the clothes in the fashion show were too off the wall for the average customer.
    up against the wall,
    1. placed against a wall to be executed by a firing squad.
    2. in a crucial or critical position, especially one in which defeat or failure seems imminent: Unless sales improve next month, the company will be up against the wall.
    up the wall, Slang. into an acutely frantic, frustrated, or irritated state: The constant tension in the office is driving everyone up the wall.

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)

Synonyms for wall

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

British Dictionary definitions for up the wall



  1. 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
  2. (as modifier)wall hangings Related adjective: mural
(often plural) a structure or rampart built to protect and surround a position or place for defensive purposes
anatomy any lining, membrane, or investing part that encloses or bounds a bodily cavity or structureabdominal wall Technical name: paries Related adjective: parietal
mountaineering a vertical or almost vertical smooth rock face
anything that suggests a wall in function or effecta wall of fire; a wall of prejudice
bang one's head against a brick wall to try to achieve something impossible
drive to the wall or push to the wall to force into an awkward situation
go to the wall to be ruined; collapse financially
drive up the wall slang to cause to become crazy or furious
go up the wall slang to become crazy or furious
have one's back to the wall to be in a very difficult situation

verb (tr)

to protect, provide, or confine with or as if with a wall
(often foll by up) to block (an opening) with a wall
(often foll by in or up) to seal by or within a wall or walls
Derived Formswalled, adjectivewall-less, adjectivewall-like, adjective

Word Origin for wall

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for up the wall




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 up the wall

up the wall

see under drive someone crazy.


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.