Up To Eleven

What does up to eleven mean?

Up to an excessive degree

When someone or something goes "up to eleven," it means it's going over the top to an extreme (and possibly unhealthy) degree. This phrase originated within the movie This Is Spinal Tap, a 1984 mockumentary about a fictional English heavy metal band.

Origin of "up to eleven"

In a scene in This Is Spinal Tap, guitarist Nigel Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest) shows off his special guitar amps to the documentary crew. While most amps' control knobs max out at a setting of ten, Tufnel's max out at eleven. Tufnel believes this gives him the ability to play louder than other guitarists. (It doesn't.)

Tufnel, however, does not actually utter the iconic phrase "up to eleven." The scene finishes with him saying "these go to eleven," after being asked why he doesn't just use a normal zero to ten scale. Filmmaker Marty DiBergi is the one who actually says "up to eleven," earlier in the scene.


Imagine coffee, but cranked up to eleven. That's Death Wish Coffee
That sounds ... kinda dangerous?
Going up to eleven isn't always a wise choice
Going up to eleven isn't always a wise choice

Related Slang


Updated March 24, 2023

Up to eleven definition by Slang.net

This page explains what the slang term "Up to eleven" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the Slang.net team.

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