Have you ever been out of line and done something that you shouldn't do? In the old days you might have got a clip around the ear for such behaviour, these days it might be off to the councillor to diagnose some lesser konwn disorder.
Whatever the case, you might plausibly have never wondered where this particular phrase came from.
It is thought that it comes from the military. Particularly in the old days, the military was a paradise for cleanliness and order and rule following related people.
And if the line wasn't exactly straight - if you were out of line - then you were doing something wrong.
And that is the origin of the phrase out of line and how it came to mean doing something wrong or incorrect.Back to Phrase Finder
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