pin down(redirected from nail someone down)
pin someone down (on something)and nail someone down* (on something)
Fig. to demand and receive a firm answer from someone to some question. (Alludes to shifting from answer to answer; commit to one answer or another.) I tried to pin him down on a time and place, but he was very evasive. Don't try to pin down the mayor on anything! I want to nail her down on a meeting time.
pin something downand nail something down
1. Lit to attach or affix something with nails or pins. Pin the pattern down temporarily. Nail down this piece of flooring every 12 inches.
2. Fig. to determine or fix something, such as a date, an agreement, an amount of money, a decision, etc. It will be ready sometime next month. I can't pin the date down just yet, however. I can't pin down the exact date just now.
pin down somebodyalso pin somebody down
1. to get specific information from someone It is not easy to pin down a politician who won't even tell you if it's raining or snowing! We tried to pin him down on where the money would come from.
2. to keep someone from being able to escape by shooting at them For a time, the crew was pinned down by machine-gun fire.
3. to hold someone by force so that they cannot move Burns usually pinned down and then handcuffed his victims. I was pinned down by a wall that had fallen.
Usage notes: when the object is a pronoun, it always follows pin: Don't pin me down about my plans.
pin down somethingalso pin something down
to discover the facts or exact details about something The fire department is trying to pin down the cause of Wednesday's fire. So far we haven't pinned down a date.
1. Fix or establish clearly, as in The firefighters finally were able to pin down the source of the odor. [Mid-1900s]
2. Force someone to give precise information or opinions, as in The reporter pinned down the governor on the issue of conservation measures. [c. 1700]
1. To secure or fasten something using a pin or pins: The tailor pinned down the patch before sewing it on. I pinned my tie down to stop it from flapping in the wind.
2. To render someone or something immobile by or as if by holding down: We pinned down the tarp with four heavy rocks. They pinned me down on the table while the doctor removed the bullet from my leg. The platoon was pinned down by heavy machine-gun fire.
3. To establish something clearly: Doctors finally pinned down the cause of the disease. I had a strange feeling about the old house, but I couldn't pin it down.
4. To compel someone to give firm opinions or precise information: The reporter pinned the governor down on the issue of raising taxes. The newspaper tried to pin down the candidates on their positions regarding capital punishment.