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two-by-four

[too-bahy-fawr, -fohr, -buh-] /ˈtu baɪˌfɔr, -ˌfoʊr, -bə-/
adjective
1.
two units thick and four units wide, especially in inches.
2.
Informal. lacking adequate space; cramped:
a small, two-by-four room.
3.
Informal. unimportant; insignificant:
Theirs was a petty, two-by-four operation.
noun
4.
a timber measuring 2 by 4 inches (5 × 10 cm) in cross section, when untrimmed: equivalent to 1 5/8 by 3 5/8 inches (4.5 × 9 cm) when trimmed.
Origin
1880-1885
1880-85, Americanism
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for two-by-four
  • Or maybe from the two-by-four that smacked him in the head earlier this morning.
  • Bars cover the windows, and a stout two-by-four secures the back door.
  • Driver's ed in that case might need to be a two-by-four upside the head.
  • One bit of advice for repairing tree-damaged roofs was to use tarps secured by screwed-on two-by-four boards.
  • On the facade, the first-floor windows with two-by-four-lights rise from floor level to near-ceiling height.
  • Other youths are balancing on a two-by-four, jumping rope or practicing throwing and catching a rubber ball.
  • two-by-four inches is a nominal size, not a finished size.
  • The winds drove several two-by-four posts into the side of a building.
British Dictionary definitions for two-by-four

two-by-four

noun
1.
a length of untrimmed timber with a cross section that measures 2 inches by 4 inches
2.
a trimmed timber joist with a cross section that measures 11/2 inches by 31/2 inches
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for two-by-four

two-by-four

adjective

Small; insignificant; inferior; two-bit: We stopped at a two-by-four hotelnearthetracks (entryform1896+,variant1930s+)


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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