What did the President mean, when he said this:

“Enough talk,” Mr. Obama said. “President Bush was timing me. He had the over/under at 25” minutes. (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/26/us/politics/for-some-bush-obama-rapport-recalls-a-lost-virtue-political-civility.html The last sentence.)

Did Bush bet on him talking longer or shorter?

  • I'm a native British English speaker, and this conveys absolutely nothing to me. From the context, I think it must mean that Bush gave him a hand-signal, but that's only a guess. (I think the quotes after '25' are a simply mistake, and they should be after 'minutes').
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 26, 2016 at 18:44
  • @ColinFine - Interesting! I don't know whether this is a very specifically US term, but I think a lot of US speakers would understand it. The over/under on ___ is a very common sports betting term here, enough so that it's sometimes used more metaphorically to mean "the odds of ___"
    – stangdon
    Sep 26, 2016 at 20:12
  • I have no interest in betting and little in sport, so it's possible it is known here. But I notice that all the examples from the Wikipedia article are from sports popular in N America.
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 26, 2016 at 20:14
  • @ColinFine, I'm a native to Southern California and I didn't know what it meant until I looked it up. But it's well known that President Obama is a sports fan, and I'm sure he makes the occasional wager.
    – Andrew
    Sep 26, 2016 at 22:45
  • As you'll see from my answer, I didn't even recognise it as a betting term.
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 26, 2016 at 23:09

2 Answers 2


In closing his speech at the opening of the Museum of African American History, President Obama made a slight jab at former President GW Bush

It is a monument no less than the others on this mall, to the deep and abiding love for this country and the ideals upon which it is founded.

For we too are America.

So enough talk, President Bush was timing me.
He had the over/under at 25.

Let us now open this museum to the world...

"Under/over" is a betting term and President Obama was saying that President GW Bush was predicting President Obama's speech to be around 25 mins.

President Obama was making fun that President GW Bush is a man of fewer words than President Obama. President GW Bush's remarks were 5 mins, whereas President Obama's remarks were half an hour.

Whether President GW Bush actually made such a prediction is left to conjecture, however a certain fondness seems to exist between the two families

As Mr. Obama was wrapping up his speech, he could not resist a gentle poke at his predecessor, who is known for his restlessness, laying odds on the length of his own remarks.

“Enough talk,” Mr. Obama said. “President Bush was timing me. He had the over/under at 25” minutes.


Here's the reference for those who don't understand the term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over%E2%80%93under

Over/under is used, usually in sports betting, to indicate a bet in which you say the score will be over or under a certain value. I'd want to hear the rest of the comment, but my guess is that Obama is joking that Bush bet Obama would speak for more than 25 minutes, implying that Bush thinks Obama is long-winded, and Obama thinks Bush is impatient.

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