You are watching: What does off the wall mean
Has anyone an idea around the origin of this expression?
According to the Historical dictionary of American Slang off the wall surface is one expression which may come from sports:
The phrase off the wall, an interpretation wild, crazy, or eccentric is first unambiguously attested come in F.L. Brown’s 1959 Trumbull Park:
We all said thanks in our own off-the-wall ways.
Not the off-the-wall holyroller kind of clapping.
There is an previously use native 1953 in the location of a blues song by Marion “Little Walter” Jacobs. But as this tune is instrumental with no lyrics, the sense of the location is ambiguous. It may be to plan in the feeling of odd, or it might literally average something taken down from a wall.
The originating metaphor is unknown, but it likely refers to part sport, a racquet-sport favor squash, or perhaps baseball, where a ball might literally be played turn off the wall, regularly with wild and unpredictable bounces.
(Source: Historical thesaurus of American Slang)
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reply Feb 8 "15 in ~ 13:02
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To expand on my comment: A rubber room or padded cell is indicative the a place where one who could be susceptible to injure himself might be secluded. This would incorporate those of transformed mental states, including those that would be considered "crazy". Thus, the environment being padded method that one attempting to harm oneself would certainly bounce harmlessly off the wall rather of collide with an unyielding surface.
This atmosphere would not be considered necessary for the basic populace.
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answer Feb 8 "15 at 16:22
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I relate it come the French expression: "faire tapisserie"= wallflower. Civilization are calculation invisible or not amazing when gift a wallflower (gender distinguish mostly). Therefore, if you are off the wall, you are visible and become interesting. Stunner in many ways method original, beyond the dull, mass, sheep-like, etc.
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answer Feb 8 "16 in ~ 5:39
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J.E. Lighter, Random residence Historical thesaurus of American Slang (1997) offers as a an initial occurrence that "off the wall" in a slang feeling this exchange from a 1937 fear film, quote (with interpolated commentary) in Michael Starks, Cocaine Fiends and also Reefer Madness (1982):
After the normal prologue on the perils of marijuana, we find Lamont High school students Jimmy and Sally drinking in a regional bar ("Beer 5¢"). "Oh, Jimmy—you don"t love me. I"m off the wall." Evidently, Sally is trying to tell us that she is drunk.
"I recognize Sally, however I don"t mind." "In the old days parents knew what their kids were act evenings." "If my mother and dad had pertained to places like this, i wouldn"t be below now." The rest of the gang, reportedly consisting of Lucille Ball, is drinking, necking, and fighting, while gift looked over by apparent older pusher types.
Lighter analyzes this excerpt as follows:
The sense of the bracketed 1937 quot
The opened of Lighter"s entry reads favor this:
off the wall adj. odd or eccentric; crazy; (broadly) obnoxious, offensive, pointless, etc. Also as adv.
And Lighter"s first two attested citations space as follows:
Frank Brown, Trumbull Park (1959) actually has actually three instances that "off the wall," each time together a hyphenated adjective phrase. First:
"You can"t win the syndicate."
Seemed like Terry had to store coming up with those off-the-wall remarks. I was gaining sick the this cat:
"What goddamned syndicate?"
I don"t understand whose church radio regimen it was the was swinging for this reason nice that January Sunday morning. I mean, organs and choirs and people clapping—not the off-the-wall holyroller type of clapping, yet that happy-in-time easy-going everything-together sort of clapping. Whosever church that was, it to be going.
Arthur looked up and also laughed kind of quick-like and also pulled at his ear; and one by one the brave ones, the not-so-brave ones, the i know well ones, the square ones, the men and also women—one by one, we all claimed thanks in our own off-the-wall ways:
The two 1950s citations imply that the phrase may have occurred in afri American slang prior to crossing over to white U.S. Slang. I remember the "off the wall" was a popular term in the small east-coast college i attended in the early-to-mid-1970s—popular enough, in fact, the my friends and I had actually a regime where, whenever someone alluded to something or someone gift "off the wall," we would automatically pretend to connect ourselves magnetically come the nearest wall surface by both hands and also both feet, and also proclaim that we were "on the wall."
In 1978, in law school in Texas, i encountered a associated phrase: "off the page." our torts professor said our course that in assigning marks because that each price on the last exam, the awarded 5 clues for an excellent answer, 4 because that a very an excellent one, 3 for an above-average one, 2 for an median one, 1 because that a below-average one, and 0 for an answer that to be "off the page."
Harold Wentworth & Stuart Flexner Dictionary the American Slang, first edition (1960) doesn"t perform "off the wall," but it does display that "off the wall" had plenty of firm by 1960 together a phrase beginning with off and an interpretation "crazy":
off adj. Crazy; eccentric; loco. See off
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These expressions have in typical that the center term is a possessive pronoun rather of words the, yet otherwise they seem quite comparable to "off the wall." Wentworth & Flexner also cites "off the cob" (meaning "corny") indigenous the 1940s. I have actually sometimes wondered even if it is "off the wall" was suggested by the sad fate that Humpty-Dumpty, but I"ve no found any kind of support for that idea in reference works.