Over the top

Over the top is an idiom that has been in use for just over one hundred years. We will examine the meaning of the idiom over the top, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Over the top may mean to push oneself over a figurative finish line, to achieve a goal that one has been figuratively climbing toward. More often, however, the idiom over the top is used to mean something foolhardy, excessive or outrageous, something tremendously exaggerated. For instance, wearing a wig that is four feet tall may be considered over the top. The phrase over the top has an interesting origin. The expression originated during World War I to describe the action of emerging from the trenches to charge across an open area to attack the enemy. The invention of the phrase is attributed to British soldiers. By the 1930s, the phrase over the top had become an idiom. The abbreviation O.T.T. is commonly used in British English, though it is unknown in American English. When used as an adjective before a noun the phrase is hyphenated, as in over-the-top.

Examples

Adding Francisco Lindor and Gerrit Cole would put Yankees over the top (New York Post)

She also described the side dish as “unbelievably good” and the dessert was “over the top.” (The Echo Press)

“Burnt-Out Wife” is a master storyteller channeling over-the-top humor to help us digest a very serious topic – should she stay in her marriage or get a divorce? (The Press Herald)

America’s Biggest Indoor Theme Park to Open Inside Wildly Over-The-Top Mall (Fodor’s)

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