Going Over the Top

October 1916: A deserted German trench on the Somme littered with personal remains and empty tins. Topical Press Agency / Stringer/ Hulton Archives/ Getty Images


The phrase "going over the top" came into usage during World War I and referenced attacking infantry rising out of their own trenches to assault the enemy. In order to attack opposing trench lines, infantry were required to climb over the parapet of their trenches and cross "No Man's Land." As World War I offensives generally sustained heavy losses, "going over the top" was an unpopular activity for soldiers.