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in a holding pattern

1. Literally, of an aircraft, in a continuous, generally circular flight pattern over an airport, as while awaiting clearance to land. Due to a security breach in the airport, our plane was kept in a holding pattern for nearly 45 minutes.
2. In a state or condition of inactivity or stagnancy, leading to little or no change, advancement, or development. Relying solely on derivative sequels, many feel that the video game company has been in a holding pattern in recent years.
See also: holding, pattern

pattern something after something

to use something as an example or model when making something. I patterned my house after one I saw in England. She wanted to pattern her coat after her mother's.
See also: after, pattern

pattern something on something

to use something as a model for something else. Try to pattern your sales speech on Jane's. She's got it just right. We patterned our approach on Bob's.
See also: pattern

pattern on

or pattern after
To form, develop, or found something on the basis of something else; fashion something after something else: The country patterned its legal system on French civil law. These lesson plans are patterned after the ones I learned at graduate school.
See also: pattern
References in classic literature ?
The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out.
Lebrun packed up his paints and brushes, Percerin put back the dresses into the closet, Aramis put his hand on his pocket to assure himself the patterns were secure, - and they all left the study.
This pattern, and the colors, yes, I will tell the Emperor without delay, how very beautiful I think them.
But she did not want to appear unamiable and uninterested, so she had brought forth newspapers, which she spread upon the floor of the gallery, and under Madame Ratignolle's directions she had cut a pattern of the impervious garment.
As the weaver elaborated his pattern for no end but the pleasure of his aesthetic sense, so might a man live his life, or if one was forced to believe that his actions were outside his choosing, so might a man look at his life, that it made a pattern.
I thought it was Shea returning to speak with me on some matter of tomorrow's work; but when I raised my eyes to the doorway that connects the two rooms I saw framed there the figure of a bronzed giant, his otherwise naked body trapped with a jewel-encrusted harness from which there hung at one side an ornate short-sword and at the other a pistol of strange pattern.
Rachel has given you one of her beloved knitted quilts of the `tobacco stripe' pattern, and she says when I am married she'll give me one, too.
He was a man who rather prided himself upon neglecting his appearance, and, so far as the cut and pattern of his clothes went, he usually suggested the artisan out for a holiday.
I want that pattern to cut out your new apron this evening.
What can be more curious than that the hand of a man, formed for grasping, that of a mole for digging, the leg of the horse, the paddle of the porpoise, and the wing of the bat, should all be constructed on the same pattern, and should include the same bones, in the same relative positions?
I was to take charge of a pattern for a dress, which she said you would give me.
Mr Bayle (I think, in his article of Helen) imputes this, and with greater probability, to their violent love of glory; for the truth of which, we have the authority of him who of all others saw farthest into human nature, and who introduces the heroine of his Odyssey, the great pattern of matrimonial love and constancy, assigning the glory of her husband as the only source of her affection towards him.
But, as it is not unreasonable to suppose that I may have held its threads with a more continuous attention than anyone else can have given them during its desultory publication, it is not unreasonable to ask that the weaving may be looked at in its completed state, and with the pattern finished.
Its difficulty was much enhanced by the mode of publication; for, it would be very unreasonable to expect that many readers, pursuing a story in portions from month to month through nineteen months, will, until they have it before them complete, perceive the relations of its finer threads to the whole pattern which is always before the eyes of the story-weaver at his loom.
She kissed him, then seated herself again, and took another tablecloth on her lap, unfolding it a little way to look at the pattern, while the children stood by in mute wretchedness, their minds quite filled for the moment with the words "beggars" and "workhouse.