Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
the sun is over the yardarm
It is the appropriate time of day to begin drinking alcohol. A "yardarm" is a horizontal bar on the mast of a ship, and it is supposed that when the sun passed it at a certain time of day (around noon), sailors were allowed to drink. Well, the sun is over the yardarm, so why don't we order some wine with our brunch? Are you really having a beer? I don't think the sun is quite over the yardarm yet.
when the sun is over the yardarm
Used to describe when people begin drinking alcohol, or the time at which it is appropriate to do so. A "yardarm" is a horizontal bar on the mast of a ship, and it is supposed that when the sun passed it at a certain time of day (around noon), sailors were allowed to drink. These days, the way I measure when the sun is over the yardarm is whether or not I've eaten lunch yet. Oh, don't pay any attention to them. They always get a bit rowdy when the sun's over the yardarm.
yardarm to yardarm
obsolete Very close together. When I planted the bushes, I put them yardarm to yardarm—I hope they don't overcrowd each other once they start blooming.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
the sun is over the yardarm
People say the sun is over the yardarm to say that it is late enough in the day to have an alcoholic drink. Well, the sun is over the yardarm — anyone for a drink? Note: This expression is used humorously. Note: This expression is thought to come from the old practice on some ships of having an alcoholic drink when the sun had risen past a horizontal bar on the mast, usually around 11a.m.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
the sun is over the yardarmit is the time of day when it is permissible to drink alcohol. informal
This was originally a nautical expression: a yardarm is the outer extremity of a yard , a cylindrical spar slung across a ship's mast for a sail to hang from. The time of day referred to is noon, rather than 6 o'clock in the evening, as is often supposed.
1992 Angela Lambert A Rather English Marriage Have a snifter? Sun's over the yardarm, as they say in the senior service.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
sun is over the yardarm, when the
A time permissible for cocktails or some other alcoholic drink. Yardarm means either end of the outer portions of a square sail, and presumably this term alludes to the cocktail hour on a pleasure yacht, after the sun has begun to sink. It is used more in Britain than in America, where in fact it is dying out. Rudyard Kipling had it in From Sea to Sea (1899): “The American does not drink at meals as a sensible man should. Also, he has no decent notions about the sun being over the yardarm or below the horizon.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer