a tall order

a tall order

Meaning

  • a challenging task or difficult requirement
  • a very difficult request or job to accomplish
  • It can also be used to mean that the assignee does not trust the doer to complete a specific task.

Example sentences

  1. Telling a player to score six goals in one game is a tall order.
  2. Changing one’s negative doings must surely be a tall order, especially if dealing with depression.
  3. For Nobita, it is always a tall order to beat Gian.
  4. Russia has an extremely tall order to clear against America, and America has all the weapons to make it a hard-fought battle.
  5. It was a tall order to expect the company to finish in such a short time
  6. Getting the project done within that schedule will be a tall order.

Origin

Though the exact origin of the idiom is not known, it was first used in the late 1800s and early 1900s to mean something of considerable magnitude. It was used for a wide range of items, but not always for items of height or literality. In the English dictionary, it means something difficult to fulfill or achieve.

The first known appearance of the phrase in print dates back to 1893 by Francis Adams in his work The New Egypt: A Social Sketch, it reads:

“‘It’s a tall order, but it’s worth trying, isn’t it?’

A tall order it certainly was – so tall an order that the well-informed friends whom I consulted assured me that I could not climb to the top of it.”

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