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wall (wôl)
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n.
1. An upright structure of masonry, wood, plaster, or other building material serving to enclose, divide, or protect an area, especially a vertical construction forming an inner partition or exterior siding of a building.
2. often walls A continuous structure of masonry or other material forming a rampart and built for defensive purposes.
3. A structure of stonework, concrete, or other material built to retain a flow of water.
4.
a. Something resembling a wall in appearance, function, or construction, as the exterior surface of a body organ or part: the abdominal wall.
b. Something resembling a wall in impenetrability or strength: a wall of silence; a wall of fog.
c. An extreme or desperate condition or position, such as defeat or ruin: driven to the wall by poverty.
5. Sports The vertical surface of an ocean wave in surfing.
tr.v. walled, wall·ing, walls
1. To enclose, surround, or fortify with or as if with a wall: wall up an old window. See Synonyms at enclose.
2. To divide or separate with or as if with a wall. Often used with off: wall off half a room.
3. To confine or seal behind a wall; immure: "I determined to wall [the body] up in the cellar" (Edgar Allan Poe).
4. To block or close (an opening or passage, for example) with or as if with a wall.
Idioms:
off the wall Slang
1. Extremely unconventional.
2. Without foundation; ridiculous: an accusation that is really off the wall.
up the wall Slang
Into a state of extreme frustration, anger, or distress: tensions that are driving me up the wall.
writing/handwriting on the wall
An ominous indication of the course of future events: saw the writing on the wall and fled the country.

[Middle English, from Old English weall, from Latin vallum, palisade, from vallus, stake. Idiom, in reference to an incident in the Bible (Daniel 5) in which a hand writes mysterious words on the wall of Belshazzar's banquet hall and the prophet Daniel interprets them as predicting the king's downfall.]

wallless adj.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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