Definition of wall in US English:



  • 1A continuous vertical brick or stone structure that encloses or divides an area of land.

    ‘a garden wall’
    ‘farmland traversed by drystone walls’
    • ‘Nothing for the preservation of the area next to the wall, which would enhance the visual aspect of the latter.’
    • ‘The Washburn Valley is true Dales country, with stoutly-built stone barns and sinuous walls dividing up the fields of deep velvety green.’
    • ‘The attendant looked at the man, then at the phone book and shrugged before hurling it over the wall into the waste area.’
    • ‘The Bible states clearly a man who takes another man's wife shall be taken without the city walls and stoned unto death.’
    • ‘The site is in a flood plain, which meant slurry walls had to be built to enclose the area where the foundation walls now stand.’
    • ‘The walls were built from stones taken from nearby hills.’
    • ‘During the kar sewa, the volunteers cleaned the window panes, the walls and the area around the pond, the defence spokesman added.’
    • ‘The structure has thick walls of snow and ice, reinforced with wooden arches, metal bands, chicken wire and refrigeration lines.’
    • ‘The woman pillion passenger was thrown into bushes and the second driver hit a tree before landing behind a wall.’
    • ‘I learnt to build walls, and I learnt why I should knock them down.’
    • ‘Just down the walk, I found a hole knocked in a garden wall and a hundred bricks missing.’
    • ‘Rail chiefs have been condemned by residents for not repairing a damaged wall which restricts access to the line for six months.’
    • ‘It was surrounded by a garden, which was surrounded by a ten-foot-thick wall of stone.’
    • ‘The space in which the platform was located was divided into three areas by walls which cut across the raised platform.’
    • ‘At the back of the house, granite walls enclose the west-facing garden which is in lawn.’
    • ‘The slow seep through the garden wall made the whole area under the grapes a muddy swamp.’
    • ‘Two earth walls divide the cave into different classrooms.’
    • ‘By the time I got to the drystone wall that divides the plot from the public footpath and the beck, the sobs had changed to screams of rage.’
    • ‘In fact, many years ago we obtained permission from the church authorities to place the memorial stones around the walls to make maintenance easier.’
    • ‘Ancient thick walls and decorated stones, bladder campion and violets threaded through the grass.’
    barrier, partition, room divider, enclosure, screen, panel, separator
    fortification, rampart, barricade, parapet, bulwark, stockade, bailey, breastwork
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A side of a building or room, typically forming part of the building's structure.
      • ‘The sloped ceiling left little standing room, and the walls were hot pink!’
      • ‘Adobe masonry is heavy work, so limiting the square footage of the adobe walls is important to building on a budget.’
      • ‘You can even paint the trim of one room the same color as the walls of the next room, and vice-versa.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the yellow walls brighten up the room so that the red doesn't seem too dark.’
      • ‘Station Officer Peter Ashworth said the fire spread inside the building's walls and damaged the brickwork and roof.’
      • ‘The room widens almost imperceptibly, then narrows again as the adobe walls converge on either side of the altar.’
      • ‘It is a handsome building with brick walls, grey slate slanting roof, and tall spire.’
      • ‘The seminar room was a bare room with plaster falling off the walls in a half-derelict building.’
      • ‘We removed the walls between the rooms, creating a single living and dining space.’
      • ‘Party walls are walls which either separate buildings in different ownership or which are part of a building and which stand on lands in different ownership.’
      • ‘Help them press their hands onto the walls to create a room boarder around the middle of the wall.’
      • ‘What should the flashing do at the wing wall when it approaches from the masonry walls on either side of the corner?’
      • ‘Birch branches leaning against a wall in the living room become sculpture, for example.’
      • ‘What is learnt in the four walls of a classroom becomes totally irrelevant when the students get employed.’
      • ‘Being confronted with room after room of plasterboard walls was ‘quite daunting’, admits Vivien.’
      • ‘Ayako didn't answer him back, but began to observe the surrounding buildings through the glass walls of the room.’
      • ‘As a color for the walls of a room, we urge you to exercise caution with turquoise.’
      • ‘Make sure you can work the wood through the hole in the wall and that it can be pulled up against the back side of the wall by the string.’
      • ‘Mirrors were on the right side of the wall, making the room appear much larger than it really was.’
      • ‘Liza stepped back from the lanky man leaning over her, banging into the brick wall of the building.’
    2. 1.2 Any high vertical surface or facade, especially one that is imposing in scale.
      ‘the eastern wall of the valley’
      figurative ‘flash floods sent a 6-foot wall of water through the village’
      • ‘When I arrived there and got out of the car, I was met by a wall of noise.’
      • ‘Up close, the walls were like the surface of the moon, made vertical.’
      • ‘Describing the feeling of what it is like to scale a craggy wall with ease, Kirsty likened the experience to a Zen state.’
      • ‘At the strategic location of Pointe du Hoc, American Rangers scaled the cliff walls on D-Day.’
      • ‘And there is even much to learn about the city walls.’
      • ‘Sheer walls narrow towards the surface and almost meet, progressing vertically above the surface for another 30m or so.’
    3. 1.3 A thing perceived as a protective or restrictive barrier.
      ‘a wall of silence’
      • ‘He carried on his celestial observations alone from a tower situated on the protective wall of the cathedral.’
      • ‘Silence becomes a fortress wall of protection, shielding the pastor's position of power from scrutiny or challenge.’
      • ‘On three sides 12-metre high walls form a barrier between the two factions.’
      • ‘It was like he had brought the street with him; they kept him company and provided a kind of protective wall.’
      • ‘Police believe a wall of silence is protecting a knifeman who stabbed a teenager in the face during a seven-a-side football match.’
      • ‘We eat lunch leaning on the high protective wall around Kincardine Church.’
      • ‘Barbed wire can be incorporated into existing natural obstacles like hedges, fences and walls, and used to block access from the roof.’
      • ‘The wall prevents detainees from meeting each other and is a barrier to easy access to the library.’
      • ‘In America, barrier walls are built along highways to keep neighbors from being inconvenienced by the noise.’
      • ‘They had been friends for many years and in all that time, Reagan had never seen Terrance let down the protective walls around him.’
      • ‘They had been lucky enough to follow their scent this far, but now they were unsure if the two had enter the protective walls of the town.’
      • ‘She stopped at the edge of the porch, and the Cartwrights formed a protective wall behind her.’
      • ‘Their unwillingness to acknowledge the dangers of fundamentalist Islam is creating a wall of silence that needs to be overcome.’
      • ‘Without these protective walls, the going becomes significantly more delicate.’
      • ‘But to make a court case the police had to break down the walls of silence and tribal loyalty which have built up against them in Manningham over many years.’
      • ‘Met by a wall of silence, one soldier battered Ali to the floor with his rifle and tried to beat the information out of him.’
      • ‘Only one man Robert Morris, 49, has been charged because detectives hit a wall of silence.’
      • ‘Detectives met a wall of silence despite being convinced that several local people knew who was responsible.’
      • ‘Bullet-proof glass and protective walls will hopefully put paid to any terrorist attacks.’
      • ‘It all screams of a good place to go and watch inclement weather from within protective walls.’
      obstacle, barrier, barricade, fence
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    4. 1.4Soccer A line of defenders forming a barrier against a free kick taken near the penalty area.
      • ‘Nastja Ceh put Slovenia ahead in the 16th minute after curling a free-kick over a wall of defenders.’
      • ‘Dean Ashton was brought down on the edge of the Plymouth penalty area and Lunt hit the free kick through the wall.’
      • ‘It was a clear foul - like when players ease a defender out the way in the wall at a free-kick.’
      • ‘Shevchenko steps up and promptly blasts the free-kick into the wall.’
      • ‘Henry curled the free kick around the wall and into the top right-hand corner of Kiely's goal.’
    5. 1.5
      short for climbing wall
    6. 1.6Mining The rock enclosing a lode or seam or forming the side of a mine-working.
    7. 1.7Zoology Anatomy The membranous outer layer or lining of an organ or cavity.
      ‘the wall of the stomach’
      • ‘This relaxes muscles in the walls of blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.’
      • ‘The outer wall of the braincase becomes the alisphenoid and the dermal skull bones.’
      • ‘There were several points of adhesion from the lung to the chest wall and to the mediastinal pleura.’
      • ‘The outer layer of the wall of the large intestine is weaker in some areas than in others.’
      • ‘The musculature of the wall of the infundibulum is similar to that of the acetabulum.’
    8. 1.8Biology


[with object]
  • 1Enclose (an area) within walls, especially to protect it or lend it some privacy.

    ‘housing areas that are walled off from the indigenous population’
    • ‘There are gardens to the front and rear, both walled in, while the drive has parking for two cars or more.’
    • ‘Outside the garden is walled to the front with a cobble lock drive and pathway to the front door.’
    • ‘I thought the garden was walled all round, but there is a breach in the wall at the back which a healthy animal could have hurdled.’
    • ‘They put these viewing platforms all over the place so that people can see into whatever area has been walled off.’
    enclose, bound, encircle, confine, hem, circumscribe, close, shut, fence
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    1. 1.1wall something up Block or seal a place by building a wall around or across it.
      ‘one doorway has been walled up’
      • ‘My room was far away from everybody else's, on the corner of an enclosed porch - it had once been open, but they walled it up.’
      • ‘I was once told that the mill was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, and windows were walled up for the window tax of 1696.’
      • ‘Originally, an alcove on the east side enlarged the living space of H2, but later access to this area was walled up with stones and sod, thus reducing the living space to a single room.’
      • ‘At the end of that time the slaves of one Adolius, to whom the inheritance of the mountain had descended, removed the stones with which the cavern had been walled up, and the seven sleepers were permitted to awake.’
      block, seal, close, brick up
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    2. 1.2wall someone/something in/up Confine or imprison someone or something in a restricted or sealed place.
      ‘the gray tenements walled in the space completely’
      • ‘The Communist Party has apparently found a way to secure its future - by walling its people in.’
      • ‘We put this in a corner, and walled a third side in with a small bench turned on its side.’
      • ‘Crime has spiraled so out of control that the government has entirely given up on certain neighborhoods and walled them in, content to let lawlessness reign there as long as it is contained and cannot spill over to Paris proper.’
      • ‘It was an amazing thing to be outside and not see the grey stones of the castle walling him in on every side.’
      • ‘If cable companies wall consumers up in a walled garden and just allow them to order a pizza, they won't get very far.’
      • ‘This plus the fact the sheep pen is walled in on four sides by a solid board fence three and a half feet high on two sides and 15 feet on the other.’
      • ‘What is the grand purpose towards which he must suffer this indignity, this loss of sense after sense until he is walled in senselessly, no hope of escape?’
      • ‘When you should have been dreaming of accession, and lopping off the heads of people you took a dislike to, mad uncle Richard was walling you up in the tower.’
      • ‘They didn't touch me, but formed a solid formation that would be impossible to break, walling me in with the rail of the bridge at my back.’
      • ‘Next to that, the stereo is walled in by records and tapes.’
      • ‘That would be destructive to the process, because that would start walling things in and out.’
      • ‘Undeterred, the couple walled it in and blended it with the kitchenette by placing the refrigerator and wet bar to either side.’
      confine, enclose, impound, shut up, pen, pen in, pen up, fence in, hedge in
      confine, enclose, impound, pen, pen in, pen up, fence in, hedge in
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  • drive someone up the wall

    • informal Make someone very irritated or angry.

      • ‘With all the deadlines and projects driving me up the wall, I decided to take a break from all these and go for a short therapy session.’
      • ‘There was something cloying about Charlie's attentiveness that drove her up the wall from time to time.’
      • ‘The noise is a low frequency vibration which can drive you up the wall when the wind sets it into homes and farms.’
      • ‘Before long, however, the perky pensioner is running rings around the pair with an unending series of demands and unneighbourly behaviour that drives them up the wall.’
      • ‘And each one was rude or stubborn or had some irritating habit that drove him up the wall.’
      • ‘His contrived jollity is driving me up the wall.’
      • ‘We spend a lot of time out in the garden and the sound of the fork - lift trucks drives you up the wall.’
      • ‘Its shouty hardcore-style vocals and insanely overused thrash-metal-hardcore snare drum attack drove me up the wall.’
      • ‘It's the relentless, mind-numbing repeat tasks that drive me up the wall, and sometimes I can't even be bothered to crawl back down again.’
      • ‘Now that I have a daughter of my own, I can't help wondering when the time will be right for me to start driving her up the wall.’
      enrage, incense, anger, infuriate, madden, inflame, antagonize, make someone's blood boil, make someone's hackles rise, rub up the wrong way, ruffle someone's feathers, ruffle, peeve
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  • go to the wall

    • 1informal (of a business) fail; go out of business.

      • ‘We are a business and we do not want to go to the wall.’
      • ‘From a UK perspective, such business practice would now deserve to go to the wall, but it is indicative of where France is economically.’
      • ‘Any other business with a cash crisis would have had to go to the wall but football seems to be more important than - for example - keeping open old people's homes.’
      • ‘The result of her incompetence has been that young drivers are being crucified and that business are going to the wall with thousands of jobs lost.’
      • ‘So the longer that access to our expensive salmon rivers and classic Highland lochs remains closed then the more fishing hotels, tackle shops and other small rural businesses will go to the wall.’
      • ‘As for Poland's two million farmers, the poorest two thirds are expected to go to the wall following EU entry.’
      • ‘That means not only will clubs go to the wall, many charities will go to the wall.’
      • ‘They have excluded every car from the city centre, as a result any remaining small businesses have gone to the wall.’
      • ‘Paddy Sheehan supported his call, claiming that a number of small businesses could go to the wall.’
      • ‘Independent traders in the city centre warn that some businesses could go to the wall before the autumn, when York Council plans to review the impact of the new parking regime.’
      fail, collapse, go bankrupt, become insolvent, go into receivership, go into liquidation, crash, fold, fold up, go under, founder, be ruined, cave in
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    • 2informal Support someone or something, no matter what the cost to oneself.

      ‘the tendency for poets to go to the wall for their beliefs’
      • ‘No politician will ever claim to have won a seat by announcing that he would fight, to save the Scottish Chamber Orchestra or go to the wall for the National Gallery of Modern Art.’
      • ‘They shouldn't have gotten him on that, but it wasn't a big enough thing for him to really go to the wall for.’
      • ‘It's a farmers' problem and while everyone should feel sorry for them, and give them a help out, we can't all go to the wall for them.’
      • ‘Shaq is ready to go to the wall for Dwyane if necessary.’
      • ‘Government agencies, like conservation authorities, will go to the wall for valleys, areas of natural and scientific significance, forests and floodplains.’
      • ‘They will complain about him and his ways, but they will understand how much he cares and go to the wall for him.’
      • ‘Notwithstanding their bravado, my guess is that the Democrats fear they will be the political losers if they go to the wall for the principle that a minority should be able to block a judicial nominee from receiving a vote.’
  • hit the wall

    • (of an athlete) experience a sudden loss of energy in a long race.

      • ‘I never thought I would get anywhere near the Olympic qualifying time and my biggest fear was hitting the wall.’
      • ‘Moehler seems to be hitting the wall around the 100-pitch mark, a trend that's worrisome in light of shoulder soreness he has experienced.’
      • ‘Szczerbiak seemed to hit the wall at midseason, but he rebounded well to finish strong.’
      • ‘The first couple of games I felt pretty good, but by the third game I pretty much hit the wall.’
      • ‘Italy have a rare moment of pressure - but Panucci hits the wall for about the third time today.’
      • ‘He hit the wall, and the rest of the team finally recognized its responsibility.’
      • ‘Waltrip hit the wall, slid down the track and eventually flipped over in the infield.’
  • off the wall

    • 1informal Eccentric or unconventional.

      • ‘Her smile, combined with the off the wall remark, elicited a laugh from Gael.’
      • ‘They are off the wall, unsettling, and very strange.’
      • ‘Christopher Walken does eccentricity well, but just being off the wall isn't necessarily funny.’
      • ‘Part of his job, along with colleagues, is to look to the future and come up with ideas - some of them off the wall - as to what life in Keighley could be like in the future.’
      • ‘It was something a little more off the wall, a bit of self-reference or a weird thought.’
      • ‘Tyler scoffed, seeming to take Ox's off the wall remark as a serious question.’
      • ‘But if you find a good friend who is just off the wall, different than you are, there's something about him you like.’
      • ‘The basic premise that the international companies will be providing water for the world's poorest is just off the wall.’
      eccentric, zany, far out, freakish, quirky, idiosyncratic, unconventional, unorthodox, weird, outlandish, offbeat, off-centre, bizarre, strange, unfamiliar
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    • 2informal (of a person) angry.

      ‘the president was off the wall about the article’
      • ‘‘It was driving me off the wall, blocking e-mails and not letting me get to ordinary websites,’ he says.’
    • 3informal (of an accusation) without basis or foundation.

      • ‘You didn't allow them to get away with what the presidential candidates did with Jim the first night, which was really go off the wall.’
  • walls have ears

    • proverb Be careful what you say as people may be eavesdropping.

      • ‘Every time I hear the Hindi version of ‘The walls have ears,’ I get a hilarious mental picture of a wall covered with ears, all listening intently to something they aren't meant to hear.’
      • ‘‘The walls have ears here,’ he says, soon after we enter the coffee shop, ushering me away from the disinterested-looking patrons in search of more private surroundings.’
      • ‘While a North American might say, ‘Be quiet, the walls have ears,’ a Salvadoran would warn, ‘There are parrots in the field.’’
      • ‘These walls have ears and your words could easily cost you your life.’
      • ‘Not so loud now, these walls have ears you know.’
      • ‘In my home, the ceilings have eyes, and the walls have ears.’
      • ‘There's nothing wrong with that per se but you have to be careful what you say because the walls have ears.’
      • ‘You have been raised at court and you should well know that walls have ears.’
      • ‘In America, the damn walls have ears and the sky has eyes.’
      • ‘If, as the saying goes, ‘the walls have ears,’ then furnishings speak volumes.’


Old English, from Latin vallum ‘rampart’, from vallus ‘stake’.