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back and fill
1. To move a ship's sails in an alternating fashion to accommodate the wind in a narrow channel. We need to back and fill the sails in order to pass through this channel.
2. To be indecisive. You need to make a decision and stick to it—quit backing and filling!
fill (one's) boots
1. To take or obtain as much of something as one can. Primarily heard in UK. Since the shop announced its going-out-of-business sale, customers have been filling their boots with formerly overpriced homeware.
2. To replace one in some role; to take over for one in some position. You do so much for the company that I don't see how anyone could fill your boots.
fill (one's) hand
1. To draw a firearm into one's hand, as in preparation for a gunfight. Fill your hand, stranger—you've been talkin' fighting words all day and I've had enough!
2. biblical To be consecrated or initiated as a priest, i.e., by placing objects of worship or holy sacrifice into one's hands. After years of studying in the rectory, young Adam was finally ready to fill his hands and enter the priesthood.
fill (one's) head with (something)
To cause one to begin having particular thoughts or ideas. Everything she's said sounds like it's straight out of Pat's wacky schemes. He must be filling her head with crazy ideas.
fill (one's) prescription
1. To supply and sell a dose or set of doses of a medicine as prescribed to one by a doctor. Because of the strength of the medication, I have to be there in person with ID when they fill my prescription for the first time. When filling a patient's prescription, you have to be sure that all directions and warnings are on the medicine and said to the patient directly.
2. To go to or contact a pharmacy in order to buy a dose or set of doses of a medicine as prescribed by a doctor. Do you mind if we swing by the pharmacy on the way home? I need to fill my new prescription. She just went in to fill her prescription—she should be back in a minute.
fill (something) to (some point)
To insert or place something inside something else, but only to a certain stopping point. Often said of liquids. Well, no wonder she spilled her juice—you filled her cup all the way to the brim! Only fill the box up to here—otherwise, it will be too heavy to carry.
fill a/the void
To replace someone or something that is absent or missing. No, we got that project done—Rebecca filled the void while you were on vacation. If Mike doesn't play sports this year, what will fill the void besides his trouble-making friends?
1. To provide information or details, usually by actually writing something in a blank space on a test, form, etc. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "fill" and "in." Fill in the blank with the correct answer. Ugh, I had to fill in so much paperwork on my first day of work. Make sure you fill in the form completely, or they may reject your application.
2. To substitute for someone or something. In this usage, "fill in" is followed by "for." Can you fill in for me on the conference call? I have to leave early today for a doctor's appointment.
3. To fill a hole or void, especially so something looks more uniform in appearance. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "fill" and "in." Your eyebrows are looking a little sparse—can I fill them in? The landscaper is coming today to fill in all these holes in the lawn.
4. To inform one of something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "fill" and "in." Fill me in—what happened at the party last night? The weekly newsletter is intended to fill in everyone about company policy, but no one reads it.
fill in the blank
1. To provide information or details, usually by actually writing something in a blank space on a test, form, etc. Fill in the blank with what you think is the correct answer.
2. To figure something out; to determine an answer to something that was previously unknown. My parents may not know who dented the car now, but they'll fill in the blank eventually.
fill in the blank(s)
1. verb Literally, to complete a statement by adding information to a space that has been intentionally left empty or blank. The instructions at the top of the test sheet told us to fill in the blanks with the correct information about World War I.
2. expression A phrase used when one does not supply all the necessary information, instead relying on the listener to infer the missing details. A: "What happened last night between Katie and Rob? I saw them leave the bar together." B: "What do you think happened? She went home with him—fill in the blanks!"
fill in the details
To give information about a particular topic, sometimes by actually writing it in the blank space on a form. Please fill in the details about your medical history on this form. Who are you dating? Come on, fill in the details for me!
1. To provide information or details, usually by actually writing something in a blank space on a test, form, etc. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "fill" and "out." Fill out the blank with the correct answer. Ugh, I had to fill out so much paperwork on my first day of work. Make sure you fill out the form completely, or they may reject your application.
2. To become less thin or skinny by gaining weight or muscle or by simply growing into a fuller figure. He was such a skinny kid that I'm glad to see he's finally filled out some.
3. To properly fit into a piece of clothing. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "fill" and "in." I can't wear a strapless dress—I don't have the bust to fill it out!
4. To become less sparse in appearance. After being so bare all winter, the trees are finally filling out again.
fill the bill
To be helpful, useful, or what is needed in a certain situation. A: "I need another string of lights." B: "Will this one fill the bill?"
fill the gap
To assist on a temporary basis. Aunt Helen is coming over to stay with us and fill the gap until Mom gets home from work.
1. To cause someone to feel full from eating, as by providing them with food. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "fill" and "up." If the kids aren't hungry, it's probably because your mother filled them up with junk food.
2. To become full of something. The hamper filled up in no time when we got back from our trip.
3. To cause something to become full of or crammed with something In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "fill" and "up." Did you fill the hamper up already? Where am I going to put my dirty clothes?
4. To put fuel in a vehicle's gas tank. Let me just stop and fill up before we get on the highway.
A place where one can fill a vehicle with gasoline. Also commonly called a "gas station." Pop took the truck down to the filling station so we have a full tank of gas before hitting the road.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
back and fill
Fig. to act indecisively; to change one's direction repeatedly; to reverse one's course. (Originally nautical, referring to trimming the sails so as to alternately fill them with wind and release the wind, in order to maneuver in a narrow space.) The president spent most of his speech backing and filling on the question of taxation. The other candidate was backing and filling on every issue, depending on whom she was addressing.
[for an indentation, hole, etc.] to become full. The scar filled in after a few months. Will this hole in the ground fill in by itself, or should I put some dirt in?
fill in (for someone or something)
Fig. to substitute for someone or something; to take the place of someone or something. I will have to fill in for Wally until he gets back. I don't mind filling in.
to become full; to gain weight. About a month after her debilitating illness, Maggie began to fill out again. The fruit on the trees began to fill out, and we knew it was going to ripen soon.
fill someone in (on someone or something)
to tell someone the details about someone or something. Please fill me in on what happened last night. Please fill in the committee on the details.
fill someone or something up (with something)
to put as much as possible into someone or something. We filled him up with chili and crackers. We will fill up the basket with leaves. I will fill the basket up with flowers.
fill something in
1. to add material to an indentation, hole, etc., to make it full. You had better fill the crack in with something before you paint the wall. You should fill in the cracks first.
2. Fig. to write in the blank spaces on a paper; to write on a form. (See also Fill in the blanks) Please fill this form in. I will fill in the form for you.
fill something out
Fig. to complete a form by writing in the blank spaces. Please fill this form out and send it back to us in the mail. I will fill out the form as you asked.
fill the billand fit the bill
to be acceptable. Jane: I need some string. Tom: Here's some twine. Will it fill the bill? I need cloth to make a shirt. This muslin ought to fit the bill.
fill the gap
to serve temporarily. I think that the temp will fill the gap until a new person can be hired.
1. to become full. The creek filled up after the heavy rain yesterday. The rain barrel began to fill up during the storm.
2. to fill one's gas tank. I've got to stop and fill up. The gas tank is running low. We will fill up at the next little town.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
back and fill
Vacillate, be undecided, as in This measure will never be passed if the town meeting continues to back and fill. This term comes from sailing ships, where it signifies alternately backing and filling the sails, a method used when the wind is running against a ship in a narrow channel. The sail is hauled back against the wind and braced so that the tide or current carries the ship forward against the wind. Then the sail must be swung around and filled, to keep the ship on course. The term's figurative use for indecisiveness dates from the mid-1800s.
1. Complete something, especially by supplying more information or detail. For example, Be sure to fill in your salary history. It is also put as fill in the blanks, as in We'll rely on Mary to fill in the blanks. Yet another related usage is fill someone in, as in I couldn't attend, so will you fill me in? The first term dates from the mid-1800s; the others from the first half of the 1900s. Also see fill out.
2. Also, fill in for. Take someone's place, substitute for. For example, The understudy had to fill in at the last minute, or I can't come but my wife will fill in for me. Also see fill someone's shoes.
1. Complete by supplying required information, especially in writing. For example, Please fill out the application form, or I don't quite understand this drawing, so fill out the details. [Late 1800s]
2. Become enlarged, distended, rounded in outline. For example, The wind filled out the sails, or He's put on weight and really filled out. Applied to objects, this expression dates from about 1700, but to persons or animals becoming fatter, only from the late 1800s.
fill the bill
Serve a particular purpose well, as in I was afraid there wasn't enough chicken for everyone, but this casserole will fill the bill , or Karen's testimony just fills the bill, so we're sure to get a conviction. This expression alludes to adding less-known performers to a program (or bill) in order to make a long enough entertainment. [First half of 1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
back and fillOLD-FASHIONED
If someone backs and fills, they keep changing their opinion or failing to make a decision. They backed and filled for over six weeks until I told them that I would do the job myself. Note: People also talk about backing and filling to refer to this kind of behaviour. The markets are nervous, so we are likely to see some backing and filling.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
back and fill1 go in contrary directions 2 be indecisive, temporize, vacillate. chiefly North American
The expression was originally nautical: to back is to sail backwards, to fill , to sail forwards (from the notion of the wind filling the sails).
2 2003 Commonweal Even as she wants to advance boldly, therefore, she is required by the evidence to back and fill, leaving the reader with a bewildering combination of affirmation and qualification.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To provide someone with essential or newly acquired information: I didn't receive the information in the mail—could you fill me in? Please fill in the new secretary about our rules.
2. To provide something, especially required information, in written form or on a document: The applicant filled the answers in on the registration form. The students filled in the test forms.
3. To cover completely the bounded surface of something: Fill in all the rectangles on the page with blue ink. The artist filled all the stencils in with pastels.
4. To act as a substitute; stand in: When I was sick, my colleague filled in. The understudy filled in for the sick actor last night.
1. To provide required information in written form on something, such as a document: She carefully filled out the job application. He filled the voter registration form out.
2. To become larger, fuller, or fatter: The child filled out after he reached puberty.
3. To cause something to become larger, fuller, or fatter: The reporter filled out the article with extra anecdotes. The speaker filled the lecture out with a slide show.
4. To be large enough to fit some article of clothing properly: You don't really fill out that dress—it is a little baggy in places.
1. To become full: The bucket filled up with rain. The train filled up quickly, so we had to stand in the aisle.
2. To cause something to become full: I filled up the sink with soapy water. We inflated the pool and filled it up with water.
3. To fill some vehicle with fuel: I said to the mechanic, "Fill it up!" You'd better fill up the car soon. If we don't fill up now, we could run out of gas.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
n. a liquor store. (From an old name for an automobile service station.) Please stop at the filling station and get some suds on your way home.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
back and fill
1. Nautical To maneuver a vessel in a narrow channel by adjusting the sails so as to let the wind in and out of them in alteration.
2. To vacillate in one's actions or decisions.
fill the billInformal
To serve a particular purpose.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.