Off the wall

Off the wall is a popular idiom with an unknown origin. We will examine the meaning of the idiom off the wall, where it may have come from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Off the wall is an idiom that describes something odd, something outside the norm, something strange, bizarre, unconventional or unexpected. A person may be considered off the wall or he may have done something that is off the wall. The term off the wall is generally considered to be an American idiom and first appeared in the 1950s. It became popular in the 1960s. Some believe the idiom off the wall is related to the phrase bouncing off the walls, an idiom that means to be going crazy. Others believe the term came from sports, where balls may be bouncing off walls. Many believe that the idiom off the wall came from the African-American community. The term off the wall is spelled with hyphens when used as an adjective before a noun, as in off-the-wall.

Examples

When he’s collaborating with Toksvig and others on the opening sketches, Fielding knows that the very off-the-wall style of comedy he usually writes wouldn’t work for the show. (The New York Times)

So we’re talking to globe-trotters in all of our luxury fields—food, wine, fashion, cars, real estate—to learn about their high-end hacks, tips, and off-the-wall experiences. (Bloomberg News)

It’s about being able to connect the dots between the seemingly off-the-wall question and what the interviewer is really trying to find out. (Forbes Magazine)

Perhaps I was just being naive, but up until now I’ve always tended to give the Independent TD the benefit of the doubt whenever I heard some of his off-the-wall comments. (The Irish Mirror)