What does the idiom “Off Kilter” Mean? Idioms are phrases of figurative language used to express literal meaning when it comes to thoughts and feelings. Idioms are considered an informal way of speaking and can be used to lighten a conversation. “Off kilter” is an idiom that is widely used today in everyday conversation. Here you will find the meaning of the idiom, the origin story behind the phrase, examples of how to use the phrase in conversations/statements and other literal ways to say the same thing.
Off Kilter Meaning
When used to describe an object, “off kilter” means that something is not working right or properly. When used to describe a person, “off kilter” means a feeling of being out of the ordinary, thrown off a specified track or crazy and wacky.
Origin of this idiomatic expression
The phrase was first seen used in the 1600s as “out of kilter” where kilter was originally spelled kelter. However, its origin beyond that is unknown. In the 1800s, the phrase was changed and both were used interchangeably among people.
“Off Kilter” Examples
Examples in Statements
A news report statement about a new town law being passed.
- “The law seems off kilter based on the objectives of the citizens who call this place home.”
A statement made as to why an accident happened at the plant.
- “I don’t know why the machine started a fire. Although now that I think about it, it did seem a bit off kilter all day.”
Examples in Conversation
A conversation between two co-workers.
- Co-worker 1: Are you alright Josh?
- Co-worker 2: I don’t know, to be honest. My life has been so off kilter since having the new baby in the house.
A conversation between two friends.
- Friend 1: Have you met the new boy at school yet?
- Friend 2: Yes.
- Friend 1: Does he seem a little off kilter to you?
Other Ways to Say “Off Kilter”
Like all idioms, there are literal ways to say this phrase to convey the same meaning. For example, you could say it’s not working properly, it is completely out of alignment or he/she is crazy.
“Off Kilter” synonyms list:
Learn more with commonly English idioms used today.