off the wall


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wall

 (wôl)
n.
1. An upright structure of masonry, wood, plaster, or other building material serving to enclose, divide, or protect an area, especially a vertical construction forming an inner partition or exterior siding of a building.
2. often walls A continuous structure of masonry or other material forming a rampart and built for defensive purposes.
3. A structure of stonework, concrete, or other material built to retain a flow of water.
4.
a. Something resembling a wall in appearance, function, or construction, as the exterior surface of a body organ or part: the abdominal wall.
b. Something resembling a wall in impenetrability or strength: a wall of silence; a wall of fog.
c. An extreme or desperate condition or position, such as defeat or ruin: driven to the wall by poverty.
5. Sports The vertical surface of an ocean wave in surfing.
tr.v. walled, wall·ing, walls
1. To enclose, surround, or fortify with or as if with a wall: wall up an old window. See Synonyms at enclose.
2. To divide or separate with or as if with a wall. Often used with off: wall off half a room.
3. To confine or seal behind a wall; immure: "I determined to wall [the body] up in the cellar" (Edgar Allan Poe).
4. To block or close (an opening or passage, for example) with or as if with a wall.
Idioms:
off the wall Slang
1. Extremely unconventional.
2. Without foundation; ridiculous: an accusation that is really off the wall.
up the wall Slang
Into a state of extreme frustration, anger, or distress: tensions that are driving me up the wall.
writing/handwriting on the wall
An ominous indication of the course of future events: saw the writing on the wall and fled the country.

[Middle English, from Old English weall, from Latin vallum, palisade, from vallus, stake. Idiom, in reference to an incident in the Bible (Daniel 5) in which a hand writes mysterious words on the wall of Belshazzar's banquet hall and the prophet Daniel interprets them as predicting the king's downfall.]

wall′less adj.

off the wall

- Alludes to squash or handball, when a shot comes off the wall at an unexpected or erratic angle.
See also related terms for unexpected.
References in classic literature ?
They found the ladder so heavy they could not pull it up, so the Scarecrow fell off the wall and the others jumped down upon him so that the hard floor would not hurt their feet.
'I was not harming the child, madam,' said I, scarce knowing whether to be most astonished or displeased; 'he was tumbling off the wall there; and I was so fortunate as to catch him, while he hung suspended headlong from that tree, and prevent I know not what catastrophe.'
so much the better; but that it may prove laughter-worthy even to the end, let us not lose time." And he jumped off the wall.
Ambrose's worst suspicions were confirmed; she went down the passage lurching from side to side, and fending off the wall now with her right arm, now with her left; at each lurch she exclaimed emphatically, "Damn!"
'It may seem wery strange talkin' to me about these here affairs, miss,' said Sam, with great vehemence; 'but all I can say is, that I'm not only ready but villin' to do anythin' as'll make matters agreeable; and if chuckin' either o' them sawboneses out o' winder 'ull do it, I'm the man.' As Sam Weller said this, he tucked up his wristbands, at the imminent hazard of falling off the wall in so doing, to intimate his readiness to set to work immediately.
Harris and I occupied the same room which he had occupied and the same paper had not quite peeled off the walls yet.
It had a poverty-stricken appearance with its dusty yellow paper peeling off the walls, and it was so low-pitched that a man of more than average height was ill at ease in it and felt every moment that he would knock his head against the ceiling.
The plaster fallen off the walls covered the floor, and when the door was opened a horrible tapestry of black cobwebs waved in the draught.
There were no carpets and no signs of any furniture above the ground floor, while the plaster was peeling off the walls, and the damp was breaking through in green, unhealthy blotches.
Then the shopkeeper took Timer off the wall. They heard the old woman say, "Oh, yes, this is the most beautiful clock face I have ever seen.
He said: "I did apologise for it falling off the wall, but I had no idea it was going to fall off the wall.
"I always thought our work would be punchy together - exhibiting at Off the Wall Gallery together is an excellent opportunity to showcase how we see the world."