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does (exactly) what it says on the tin

(Something) does precisely what it claims or is supposed to do. Primarily heard in UK, Ireland. This budget hostel isn't glamorous but does exactly what it says on the tin: it gives you a place to sleep at a very affordable price. This no-frills antivirus software is straightforward and does what it says on the tin.
See also: does, on, say, tin, what

be like a cat on a hot tin roof

To be anxious and unable to sit still or relax. A: "Why is Carrie pacing?" B: "She's waiting for the doctor to call with her test results, so she's been like a cat on a hot tin roof all day."
See also: cat, hot, like, on, roof, tin

tin ear

1. A lack of musical ability, especially in relation to proper pitch. Unfortunately, most karaoke singers have a tin ear.
2. The inability to recognize subtleties in language. Don't try to joke around with him—he has a tin ear and can't distinguish sarcasm.
See also: ear, tin

(little) tin god

A pompous person. My attraction for him waned after he spent the entire evening acting like a little tin god. Everyone on the school board acts like a tin god. It's so irritating!
See also: god, tin

*busy as a beaver (building a new dam)

 and *busy as a bee; *busy as a one-armed paperhanger; *busy as Grand Central Station; *busy as a cat on a hot tin roof; *busy as a fish peddler in Lent; *busy as a cranberry merchant (at Thanksgiving); *busy as popcorn on a skillet
very busy. (*Also: as ~.) My boss keeps me as busy as a one-armed paperhanger. I don't have time to talk to you. I'm as busy as a beaver. When the tourist season starts, this store is busy as Grand Central Station. Sorry I can't go to lunch with you. I'm as busy as a beaver building a new dam. Prying into other folks' business kept him busy as popcorn on a skillet.
See also: beaver, busy

tin ear

Fig. a poor ear for music; a poor hearing ability when it comes to music and distinguishing pitches. I think I had better not try to sing along with you. I have a tin ear and would ruin your performance.
See also: ear, tin

busy as a beaver

Also, busy as a bee. Hardworking, very industrious, as in With all her activities, Sue is always busy as a bee, or Bob's busy as a beaver trying to finish painting before it rains. The comparison to beavers dates from the late 1700s, the variant from the late 1300s. Also see eager beaver; work like a beaver.
See also: beaver, busy

like a cat on hot bricks

Also, like a cat on a hot tin roof. Restless or skittish, unable to remain still, as in Nervous about the lecture he had to give, David was like a cat on hot bricks. The first expression replaced a still earlier one, like a cat on a hot bake-stone, which appeared in John Ray's Proverbs (1678). The second was popularized as the title of Tennessee Williams's play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955).
See also: brick, cat, hot, like, on

tin god

A self-important, dictatorial, petty person who imposes ideas, beliefs, and standards on subordinates. For example, The officials in these small towns often act like tin gods. The tin in this expression alludes to the fact that tin is a base metal with relatively little value. [Late 1800s]
See also: god, tin

like a cat on hot bricks


like a cat on a hot tin roof

If you are like a cat on hot bricks or like a cat on a hot tin roof, you cannot keep still or relax because you are very nervous or impatient. Why are you shifting from one foot to the other like a cat on hot bricks? Meanwhile, Mr Richardson says he is like a cat on a hot tin roof as the anticipation builds. Note: `Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' is the title of a play by Tennessee Williams.
See also: brick, cat, hot, like, on

put the tin lid on something

You say that something puts the tin lid on a bad situation when it is a final unpleasant event in a series. Next day, to put the tin lid on things, a hospital appointment letter for Jane arrived from the clinic.
See also: lid, on, put, something, tin

have a tin ear

1. If someone has a tin ear, they are not able to hear and understand music well. Some people may have a tin ear but everybody has at least a basic sense of rhythm. Note: You can also say that people have a tin ear for other things that you have to listen to in order to understand them. For a playwright, he has a tin ear for dialogue.
2. If someone has a tin ear for something, they do not understand it fully. Nothing in her past suggests anything other than a tin ear for democratic politics. Compare with have an ear for something.
See also: ear, have, tin

kick the tin

If you kick the tin, you give someone money or pay for something. Fifty per cent of our customers said they would kick the tin for an in-car premium sound system.
See also: kick, tin

a tin god


a little tin god

If someone behaves like a tin god or like a little tin god, they behave as if they are much more important and powerful than they really are. So what are his qualifications for acting like a little tin god?
See also: god, tin

like a cat on a hot tin roof (or on hot bricks)

very agitated, restless, or anxious.
See also: cat, hot, like, on, roof, tin

little tin god

a self-important person.
Tin is implicitly contrasted here with precious metals. The phrase seems to have originated in Rudyard Kipling's Plain Tales from the Hills, where he described idols that he thought were given undeserved veneration: ‘Pleasant it is for the Little Tin Gods When great Jove nods; But Little Tin Gods make their little mistakes In missing the hour when great Jove wakes’.
1987 Fannie Flagg Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe This little tin God in the polyester suit and the three-pound shoes. So smug, so self-important, with the nurses fluttering around him like geisha girls.
See also: god, little, tin

kick the tin

make a contribution of money for a particular purpose. Australian informal
The ‘tin’ was originally literally a tin can into which money was thrown.
See also: kick, tin

have a tin ear

be tone-deaf.
See also: ear, have, tin

like a ˌcat on hot ˈbricks

(British English) (American English less frequent like a ˌcat on a hot tin ˈroof) (informal) very nervous: He’ll be like a cat on hot bricks till he gets his exam results.
See also: brick, cat, hot, like, on

(it) does (eˌxactly) what it says on the ˈtin

(informal, saying) used to say that something is as good or effective as it claims to be, or that it really does what it claims to do. This expression is especially used when you are comparing publicity and advertisements with actual products: I paid £150 for this camera and am more than happy with it. It does exactly what it says on the tin!
See also: does, on, say, tin, what

have a tin ˈear (for something)

(informal) be unable to hear the difference between musical notes or to enjoy music: Even those of us with a tin ear can recognize a waltz.
See also: ear, have, tin

tin cow

n. canned milk. This tin cow is okay in coffee or something, but you can’t drink it.
See also: cow, tin

tin dog

n. a snowmobile (in Alaska). Who’s out there riding the tin dog?
See also: dog, tin

tin grin

n. a smile with a mouth having braces. I’ll be glad when I get rid of this tin grin.
See also: grin, tin

tin hat

n. a soldier’s helmet. You use your tin hat for everything—washing, hauling water—you name it.
See also: hat, tin

cat on a hot tin roof

A Southernism that meant someone who was on edge or nervous. The phrase survives as the title of Tennessee Williams's 1955 Pulitzer Prize–winning drama.
See also: cat, hot, on, roof, tin
References in periodicals archive ?
To begin with, a soldier may refresh himself in the early dawn with tinned bivouac cocoa and milk, which, it is said, "with the addition of hot water makes a perfect breakfast cup of sweetened cocoa and milk".
When it comes to breakfast he can make for himself a drinking-tin of tabloid tea, with tinned butter and a "tinned" loaf.
But as an Englishman can scarcely be satisfied with his morning repast unless it include ham and eggs, he had only to sort out his tins to discover tinned "ham and eggs" ready to his hand for warming.
If the air of Flanders has put a keener edge than usual on his appetite he can then turn to tinned mutton cutlets or tinned stewed kidneys, or tinned kippered herrings, or tinned fresh herrings, and can fill himself to repletion with the addition of such tinned fruits as apricots, peaches, pears, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple rings and fruit salad.
Following this with tinned sweet potatoes, he may dig out of his tins a whole roast fowl, half a roast fowl and sausage, galantine of game, camp pie, lunch tongue, ox tongues, spiced beef, Oxford sausages, smoked sausage, or chicken, ham and tongue sausage.