Understanding the Idiom: "out on the tiles" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
  • on the town

When people say they are “out on the tiles”, it means that they are out having a good time, usually at night. This phrase is often used to describe someone who is partying or enjoying themselves in some way.

The Origin of the Phrase

The origin of this idiom is unclear, but it may have originated in England during the 20th century. It could have been inspired by the idea of dancing on tiles or pavement outside a pub or club.

Variations and Similar Phrases

There are several variations of this idiom, including “out on the town” and “painting the town red”. These phrases all convey a sense of going out and having fun with friends.

Similar phrases include “letting your hair down”, which means to relax and enjoy oneself without worrying about social norms or expectations. Another similar phrase is “living it up”, which also refers to enjoying oneself in an extravagant way.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “out on the tiles”

The phrase “out on the tiles” is a colloquial expression that refers to going out for a night of drinking, partying, and having fun. It is often used to describe someone who has been out all night or who has had too much to drink.

The origins of this idiom are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated in Britain in the early 20th century. At that time, many working-class people would go out on Friday or Saturday nights after getting paid. They would spend their hard-earned money at pubs and bars, dancing and socializing until late into the night.

Over time, “out on the tiles” became a popular way to describe this type of behavior. The phrase was also used more broadly to refer to any kind of wild or reckless behavior, not just drinking and partying.

In modern times, the phrase remains popular in British English and is often used in movies, TV shows, books, and music. It has become a part of British culture and is widely recognized as a symbol of youthful rebellion and freedom.

To better understand the historical context behind this idiom, let’s take a look at some examples from literature:

Examples from Literature

“We’ll go out tonight,” said Tom cheerfully. “We’ll have dinner somewhere–and then we’ll go out on the tiles.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald (This Side of Paradise)

“I’ve got nothing else planned for tonight,” she said with an impish grin. “Why don’t we go out on the tiles?”

– J.K Rowling (Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince)

The Evolution of Language

Old English ūt – out
Middle English uten, utien, utenward, utward – outward, outside, outwards
Modern English out on the tiles – going out for a night of drinking and partying.

As we can see from this table, language is constantly evolving and changing. The phrase “out on the tiles” may have originated in Britain over a century ago, but it remains relevant today as a way to describe youthful exuberance and wild behavior.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “out on the tiles”

When it comes to idioms, there are often many variations and ways in which they can be used. The same is true for the idiom “out on the tiles”. While this phrase may not be as commonly used as some other idioms, it still has its place in English language and culture.

One way in which this idiom can be used is to describe a night out on the town. When someone says they were “out on the tiles”, it means that they were out partying or socializing with friends. This could involve going to bars, clubs, or other social events.

Another variation of this idiom is to use it when describing someone who is feeling restless or anxious. For example, if someone says they are “feeling like they need to get out on the tiles”, it means that they feel like they need to go out and do something fun or exciting to alleviate their restlessness.

Additionally, this idiom can also be used in a negative context. If someone says that they had a bad night out and were “out on the tiles”, it implies that things did not go well for them while they were socializing.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “out on the tiles”

Some synonyms for “out on the tiles” include “painting the town red,” “living it up,” and “partying hard.” These phrases all convey a similar sense of indulgence and fun. However, some antonyms for this idiom might include phrases like “staying in,” “keeping it low-key,” or simply “being responsible.” These phrases suggest a more subdued approach to socializing.

Culturally speaking, the idea of going out on the tiles is often associated with youth culture and rebellion. It can be seen as an expression of freedom from societal norms and expectations. However, there are also negative connotations associated with this kind of behavior, such as excessive drinking or drug use.

In some cultures, going out on the tiles may be more socially acceptable than in others. For example, in certain parts of Europe, nightlife is an important part of local culture and tourism. In other places, such behavior may be frowned upon or even illegal.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “out on the tiles”

1. Fill in the Blank: Read a sentence with a blank space where “out on the tiles” should be inserted. Choose from a list of possible options to fill in the blank correctly.

Example: After a long week at work, John was ready to ___________.

Options: go out on the town, stay home and relax, hit the gym

2. Role-Play: Act out scenarios where “out on the tiles” can be used appropriately. Practice using tone and context clues to convey meaning effectively.

Example scenario: Two friends discussing their weekend plans.

Person 1: What are you doing this weekend?

Person 2: I’m thinking about going ___________ tonight with some friends.

Person 1: Sounds like fun! Where do you plan on going?

3. Create Your Own Sentences: Use “out on the tiles” in original sentences that demonstrate your understanding of its meaning and usage.


I haven’t been ___________ in ages! Let’s make plans to go out this weekend.

4. Context Clues Matching Game: Match definitions of words or phrases commonly associated with “out on the tiles” with their corresponding term.


Definition – A night spent socializing outside of one’s home

Term – Out On The Tiles

By practicing these exercises, you’ll gain confidence and fluency when using this popular idiom in conversation or writing.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “out on the tiles”

When using idioms, it’s important to understand their meaning and context. However, even if you know what an idiom means, there are still common mistakes that people make when using them in conversation or writing. Here are some things to avoid when using the idiom “out on the tiles”:

  • Using it in inappropriate situations: The phrase “out on the tiles” refers to going out for a night of drinking and partying. It would be inappropriate to use this phrase in a professional setting or when discussing serious topics.
  • Misusing the word “tiles”: Some people mistakenly believe that “out on the tiles” refers to dancing or walking on tiled floors. However, this is not correct. The word “tiles” here actually means streets or sidewalks.
  • Forgetting about regional differences: Like many idioms, “out on the tiles” may not be familiar or used in all English-speaking regions. If you’re unsure whether your audience will understand it, consider using a different expression instead.
  • Overusing clichés: While idioms can add color and personality to your language, overusing them can come across as lazy or unoriginal. Try mixing up your expressions with other forms of figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that you’re using the idiom correctly and effectively conveying your intended meaning.

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