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Tardis, n.

Brit. Hear pronunciation/ˈtɑːdɪs/
U.S. Hear pronunciation/ˈtɑrdəs/
Forms:  1900s– TARDIS, 1900s– Tardis, 1900s– tardis. (Show Less)
Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Origin: Formed within English, as an acronym. Etymon: English TARDIS.
Etymology: < TARDIS (acronym < Time And Relative Dimension (or Dimensions) In Space), the name in the science-fiction BBC television series Doctor Who (first broadcast in 1963) of a time machine outwardly resembling a police telephone box, yet inwardly much larger.
Chiefly British.

 1. In similative use, esp. as the type of something with a larger capacity than its outward appearance suggests, or with more to it than appears at first glance. Cf. Tardis-like adj. and adv. at Derivatives.

1969   Times 29 Mar. 22/3   His best poems are like Doctor Who's Tardis, the solid streetcorner policebox, which actually contains a sidereal spaceship.
1985   Irish Times 4 May 19/6   So presumably, giraffes, on some Einsteinian principle of time and space, like the Tardis, have more volume inside than simple Euclidian outside measurements would indicate.
2000   Observer 23 July 7/4   This ground..is like a Tardis, transporting me back to the days of playing in front of stately homes or in some noble lord's grounds.
2008   L. Zetter Lobbying iv. 124   10 Downing Street is like the ‘TARDIS’—it is much bigger inside than it looks on the outside.

1969—2008(Hide quotations)

 2. In allusive use.

 a. Something seemingly from either the past or the future; (also) a means of apparently travelling through time.

1975   Observer 5 Jan. 15/5   Not so long ago we were justified in seeing the granite fortress of St Andrews as a kind of Tardis. Step through the door and you were transported back in time to the early twenties.
1988   New Musical Express 24 Dec. 33   The shiny streamlined tardis of Kraftwerk.
1990   Pink Paper 4 Aug. 12/4   This is the perception that comes from the Tardis that seems to be New Scotland Yard, timewarped in the nineteen-sixties.
2010   K. Atkinson Started Early, took my Dog 296   He thought he had been in the bin for hours but it was less than two. Not a wheelie-bin but a Tardis.

1975—2010(Hide quotations)


 b. Something with a larger capacity than its outward appearance suggests, or with more to it than appears at first glance; spec. a building, etc., that is larger on the inside than it appears from the outside.

1983   Guardian 5 Mar. 11/3   From the outside it looks small and hutlike—a sort of Welsh Dr Who's Tardis—giving no hint of what you see once through the door.
1985   Christian Sci. Monitor 30 Apr. 35   It's..a tardis of a poem, unassuming, but renewing, roomy, opportune.
1999   J. Preece Good Beer Guide 111/2   A Tardis of a pub—the small frontage conceals a long pub, half serving as a restaurant (a good vegetarian selection).
2006   R. Stubbs Bhumdi & Beyond xxi. 150   A boat is not a Tardis and conditions are, well, tight.

1983—2006(Hide quotations)




  ˈTardis-like adj. and adv.

1984   Motor 12 May 9/1 (advt.)    The line of the new Alfa 33 is a product of advanced mathematics. Computer calculations that created a compact aerodynamic style..and roomy, ‘Tardis’ like interior.
1985   Circa No. 20. 28/2   The flat diagrammatic figures seemed unresolved, their cryptic markings suggesting that they were materialising and dematerialising, Tardis-like.
2000   P. McCarthy McCarthy's Bar viii. 151   Small family homes that, Tardis-like, have miraculously created the space to accommodate big-boned American families.
2011   Daily Star (Nexis) 12 Oct. 40   Today's models [of caravan] are Tardis-like, managing to include an impressive array of fixtures and fittings.

1984—2011(Hide quotations)


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    This is a new entry (OED Third Edition, June 2002; most recently modified version published online December 2020).

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