be on

Idioms & Phrases

be on

  1. Be taking medication or an illegal drug, as in Are you on some antibiotic? or He was definitely on narcotics when it happened. [1930s]

  2. Be in favor of something or willing to participate, as in We're going dancing after the playare you on? [Colloquial; late 1800s]

  3. Be engaged in some action, especially on the stage, as in Hurry up, you're on in five minutes. [Late 1700s]

  4. Perform extremely well, as in I can't return Dan's servehe's really on today. [Slang; second half of 1900s]

  5. Be scheduled, as in Is tonight's rally still on? [Colloquial; second half of 1990s]

  6. be on one. Be at one's expense, either as a treat or the butt of a joke. For example, This round of drinks is on me, or He enjoys a good laugh, even when the joke's on him. [Colloquial; second half of 1800s]

  7. not be on. Be unacceptable, not allowable, as in I can't believe you'd cancel; that's just not on. This usage is more common in Britain than America. [Colloquial; 1930s] For a synonym, see not done. Also see be on to.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
WordNet
be on

verb
appear in a show, on T.V. or radio; "The news won't be on tonight" [syn: get on
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.
Cite This Source
Idioms & Phrases
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature