on the shelf


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Related to on the shelf: off the shelf, shelf life

on the shelf

 
1. Fig. not active socially; left to oneself in social matters. (Alludes to being left or stored on a shelf.) I've been on the shelf long enough. I'm going to make some friends. She likes being on the shelf.
2. Fig. postponed. We'll have to put this matter on the shelf for a while. I have a plan on the shelf just waiting for an opportunity like this.
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on the shelf

  (British & Australian old-fashioned)
if someone, especially a woman, is on the shelf, they are not married and people now believe they are too old to get married I was afraid my daughter would never find a husband, that she'd be left on the shelf.
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on the shelf

1. Inactive, not employed, as in With mandatory retirement at 65, many useful employees are put on the shelf. [Second half of 1500s]
2. In a state of disuse, as in We'll have to put her proposal on the shelf until we have more funds. [Late 1800s]
3. Without prospects of marriage. For example, After she broke her third engagement, her parents were sure she'd be on the shelf. This usage is always said of a woman and today considered offensive. It is probably obsolescent. [Early 1800s] All these usages allude to an article left on the shelf of a store, bookcase, or the like.
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on the shelf

1. mod. not active socially; left to oneself in social matters. I’ve been on the shelf long enough. I’m going to make some friends.
2. mod. postponed. (see also on the back burner.) We’ll have to put this matter on the shelf for a while.
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on the shelf

1. In a state of disuse or inactivity: The injured goalie has been on the shelf for weeks.
2. Out of consideration: The finance bill is on the shelf until next year.
See also: on, shelf