Under an explation of "on the double" by the Free Dictionary about "on the double", is it used in day-to-day conversations:

Rapidly; faster than one normally goes.

Can you please drive on the double?

Yes, we'll be there on the double!

Get over here right now—on the double!

She wants to see you in her office on the double.

(Actually they've written that it's primarily heard in the UK and Australia, but I heard it on an American show.....)



The origins of the saying are military and refer to marching at double speed. Actually, the British English idiom is "at the double" - "on the double" appears to be the American variant.

So it isn't really "old fashioned" as it may still be used in the military, however military jargon found its way into common speech more in the past when people were drafted into the army and then returned to civilian life after the war, taking the jargon with them, which may explain why it is used a little less now than during the last century.

  • 1
    ...and it is more appropriate for physical actions performed by humans, so I wouldn't expect to say "drive on the double". – Michael Harvey Jun 6 at 9:29
  • 1
    @MichaelHarvey Must admit, that one sounded a bit weird. I think it is acceptable to say "get me there on the double" even if you are in a vehicle. – Astralbee Jun 6 at 9:57
  • 1
    Well, it was the Dictionary... (I've come across a lot of weird sentences in dictionaries before:) – It's about English Jun 6 at 10:44
  • "the Dictionary?" what is that? – Michael Harvey Jun 6 at 11:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.