adjective, tall·er, tall·est.

  1. having a relatively great height; of more than average stature: a tall woman; tall grass.
  2. having stature or height as specified: a man six feet tall.
  3. large in amount or degree; considerable: a tall price; Swinging that deal is a tall order.
  4. extravagant; difficult to believe: a tall tale.
  5. high-flown; grandiloquent: He engages in so much tall talk, one never really knows what he’s saying.
  6. having more than usual length; long and relatively narrow: He carried a tall walking stick.
  7. Archaic. valiant.
  8. Obsolete.
    1. seemly; proper.
    2. fine; handsome.


  1. in a proud, confident, or erect manner: to stand tall; to walk tall.


  1. of more than average height
    1. (postpositive)having a specified heighta woman five feet tall
    2. (in combination)a twenty-foot-tall partition
  2. informal exaggerated or incrediblea tall story
  3. informal difficult to accomplisha tall order
  4. an archaic word for excellent

adj.“high in stature,” 1520s, probably ultimately from Old English getæl “prompt, active.” Sense evolved to “brave, valiant, seemly, proper” (late 14c.), then to “attractive, handsome” (mid-15c.), and finally “being of more than average height.” The Old English word is related to Old High German gi-zal “quick,” Gothic un-tals “indocile.” Sense evolution is remarkable, but adjectives applied to persons often mutate quickly in meaning (e.g. pretty, buxom, German klein “small, little,” which in Middle High German meant the same as its English cognate clean). Meaning “exaggerated” (as in tall tale) is American English colloquial attested by 1846. Phrase tall, dark, and handsome is recorded from 1906. In addition to the idioms beginning with tall

  • tall order
  • tall tale
  • also see:

  • walk tall
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