What Is Over the Hill? – Idiom, Origin and Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

So, is it better to be over the hill than under it? I guess that depends on the context. In this case, we’re talking about age, whether it’s a person, animal or something else entirely. But to use such a phrase means understanding its origins and how it’s meant to be used. So, I’ll explain all the details and give you some sentence examples.

What Does Over the Hill Mean?

What Is Over the Hill Idiom Origin Meaning

“Over the hill” is a pretty common idiom in the English language, and we use it to describe someone considered to be past their prime, mostly in terms of age.

It’s a statement that says, “Hey, you’ve reached a point in your life where you’re no longer young or energetic.” In most cases, it’s used in a lighthearted, humorous way toward someone you know well. But it could have a negative connotation if you used it as a hurtful comment.

Origin of the Idiom Over the Hill

It came around during the mid-1900s and originated in England.

The idea of a “hill” is supposed to represent the metaphorical peak of your life, with the “climb” up the hill meant to show youth and growth, and the final descent on the other side is the decline that inevitably comes with age.

So, when someone’s “over the hill,” they’ve passed their prime and are considered by others to be on the downward slope of life. It sounds sad, but it’s the truth of it.

Other Ways to Say Over the Hill

Even though “over the hill” is meant to be a light way to joke about someone’s age, it can sometimes feel a little harsh. So, try any of these synonyms instead.

  • Past one’s prime
  • No spring chicken
  • Long in the tooth
  • Seen better days
  • Advanced in years
  • Up in years
  • On the wrong side of *insert age*

Over the Hill Examples in a Sentence

What Is Over the Hill Idiom Origin Meaning 1
  • Despite being over the hill, I was surprised that the athlete still managed to compete at such a high level.
  • Jane didn’t mind turning 50, joking with her friends and family that she was now officially over the hill.
  • My uncle is an over-the-hill alcoholic who refuses to change his ways. 
  • I can’t wait to be over the hill so I can finally stop worrying about how I look. I want to age like a hermit swamp witch.
  • I don’t want to watch an over-the-hill movie star attempt to do stunts. 
  • My grandma always said that once you’re over the hill, it’s all downhill from there, but I know some people see it as an opportunity to embrace new experiences.
  • John may be over the hill, but his wealth of experience and wisdom in science make him a valuable mentor to younger colleagues and students.
  • My father says he’s too far over the hill to understand the latest technology and digital trends.

How Old Is Too Old?

Let’s face it, we all grow old at some point, so the phrase “over the hill” eventually applies to us all. But the next time an older friend or relative complains about being old, you can jokingly agree and say they’re over the hill. But it’s definitely better to be over it than under it, right?

Enjoyed reading about this idiom? Check out some others we covered: