up to eleven

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From a scene in the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap (1984), in which a musician shows off a guitar amplifier with setting knobs that go from zero to eleven, rather than the standard zero to ten.

Adverb[edit]

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up to eleven

  1. (idiomatic) Beyond the maximum possible threshold
    • 1997, Matthew Branton, The Love Parade, Hamish Hamilton (1997), ISBN 9780241137574, page 60:
      She and River looked at me hard; but I lowered my eyes and leaned forward, with the nonchalance turned up to eleven, extinguished my cigarette, made eye-contact and nodded curtly.
    • 2008, Tim Pratt, Poison Sleep, Bantam Spectra (2008), ISBN 9780553904734, page 267:
      Flying is like motion sickness turned up to eleven, []
    • 2009, Robin Jones Gunn, Sisterchicks Go Brit!, Random House Books (2008), ISBN 9780307561435, 147.
      “(...) ‘Oh, Lady Ebb, I'm up to eleven today after that last biscuit.’ (...)”
    • 2013, Mark Mason, Move Along, Please, Random House Books (2013), ISBN 9781847947109, unnumbered page:
      As we reach the city today, rush hour has been turned up to eleven, so there's plenty of waiting in traffic.
    • 2014, Joseph O'Connor, The Thrill of it All, Random House Books (2014), ISBN 9781448156122, unmarked page.
      It's not that London was unexciting. But I didn't understand it, felt lost. Its amp went up to eleven.
    • 2015, Charles Baxter, There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories, Random House Books (2015), ISBN 9781101870020, unnumbered page.
      “But what our textbook said? Was that they had, you know, torture parties there. Once. Where torturers get drunk and the the dial up to eleven.”