outside the lines


outside the lines
also, color outside the lines


  • not sticking to the rules
  • act or behave in a non-traditional way
  • think creatively or out of normal boundaries
  • not being set in your ways
  • not conforming to stereotypical thought processes
  • using your imagination

Example Sentences

  1. I never thought they would be allowed to do their duties outside the lines.
  2. She had chosen a line partner outside the lines.
  3. The company has been looking for an employee who thinks outside the lines.
  4. I need the freedom to draw outside the lines in response to new challenges.
  5. Our new CEO really colours outside the lines and, he’s shaking up the dinosaurs at head office.
  6. Stacey is one of those people who colours outside the lines. She’s always coming up with new ideas.
  7. There is usually a couple of children in each class who insist on colouring outside the lines.
  8. We knew Sid would rebel against the system. He’s more of an outside the line, kind of a guy.
  9. The new house was ultra-modern and space age. The designer really coloured outside the lines with his plans.


The idiom “outside the lines” is a newly evolved version of the original phrase “colour outside the lines.”

This phrase refers to young children’s colouring books with the pre-printed pictures on the pages, ready to be coloured in. Teachers, educators and parents always want to train young motor skills by encouraging children to colour ‘inside’ the lines. So, the saying ‘colour outside the lines’ has been adopted into popular usage over the last few decades in relation to anyone not conforming to the ‘accepted norm’.


  • (colour, draw or paint) outside the lines
  • to think outside the line

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