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Tall order

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 17, 2007

In Reply to: Tall order posted by Maryanne on October 17, 2007

: What is a tall order?

Tall, since the middle of the 19th century, has been used for things large in amount or size but not necessarily in terms of height, and figuratively as well as literally. For "tall order," the Oxford English Dictionary tells us that it is "slang (orig. U.S.)... something expected to be hard to achieve or fulfil." The earliest example they cite is by Franklin Adams, from 1893. The latest that they quote is from 1976: "Norwich Mercury 19 Nov. 2/1 'You do not by any chance know of anybody with an old lion's skin?' she asked. A tall order indeed."