Full Tilt Meaning
Definition: Very fast; with full speed and energy.
Origin of Full Tilt
Tilt is an old synonym for jousting, the practice when two knights on horseback ride towards each other at full speed and attempt to knock each other off their horses with a long stick.
Therefore, the fast speed meaning of full tilt comes from the speed the knights had to use to race towards one another.
The word tilt, sometimes spelled as tylt, appeared around the early 1500s. It also meant to topple or to totter. This also makes sense since jousting involves trying to topple the knight from the horse. The expression full tilt first appeared around the early 1600s.
In modern contexts, to do something full tilt is to do it full speed or to the maximum degree.
Examples of Full Tilt
In this example, two friends are walking home late at night.
Cassie: Are you sure we should walk this way? This alley seems dark and dangerous.
Rebecca: Don’t be so dramatic. I walk this way all the time and nothing bad ever happens to me.
Cassie: But what about that guy coming towards us?
Rebecca: I’m sure he’s just out for an evening stroll.
Cassie: But he’s not strolling. He’s running at us full tilt. Don’t you see him?
Rebecca: Ach! Oh my goodness, you’re right. He seems very aggressive. Run! Run to that taxi!
In the dialogue below, two men are discussing what to do about a big deadline that is rapidly approaching.
Antonio: I’m starting to think it was a bad idea to volunteer to manage that event next month.
Igor: Yeah. We aren’t prepared for it at all.
Antonio: At least we have a few months to get ready.
Igor: Um, no we don’t. The event is in three weeks.
Antonio: Are you serious? The event is rushing up on us full tilt! I had no idea it was so soon!
This excerpt is about a baseball player running very quickly.
- Harper made the catch, and Cespedes — despite his hamstring issues — took off for home, accelerating into a full-tilt sprint. –New York Daily News
This excerpt is about a train company that is dealing with delays in service.
- Rail riders took to social media to express their frustration a day after Amtrak President Wick Moorman vowed to have the system operating at full tilt. –New York Daily News
The expression dull tilt is an expression that means extremely quickly or with full power.