Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Percival, with his new air of Wall Street operator, was inclined to hesitate.

It's lucky the captain knows nothing of my Wall Street speculations.

We'll put it across that corner, and have the couch against that wall.

Take my bridle off the wall, you, Jeff, and throw it at my feet.

On the wall opposite the house the name of "Gladstone" is carved.

But much as he yearned to do so, he dared not search the wall.

Dick glowered sullenly at the wall and tugged his great moustache.

And working men may keep the wall, and jostle prince and peer.

The great mace used by his ecclesiastical ancestor he unhooked from the wall.

You got your gun on Lanning—off the wall—before he had you covered?


Old English weall "rampart" (natural as well as man-made), also "defensive fortification around a city, side of a building, interior partition," an Anglo-Frisian and Saxon borrowing (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wal) from Latin vallum "wall, rampart, row or line of stakes," apparently a collective form of vallus "stake." Swedish vall, Danish val are from Low German.

In this case, English uses one word where many languages have two, e.g. German Mauer "outer wall of a town, fortress, etc.," used also in reference to the former Berlin Wall, and wand "partition wall within a building" (cf. the distinction, not always rigorously kept, in Italian muro/parete, Irish mur/fraig, Lithuanian muras/siena, etc.).

Phrase up the wall "angry, crazy" is from 1951; off the wall "unorthodox, unconventional" is recorded from 1966, American English student slang. Wall-to-wall (adj.) recorded 1953, of carpeting; metaphoric use (usually disparaging) is from 1967.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.