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1. verb To be found or located inside some place or thing. The pasta is usually in the cupboard—check the top shelf.
2. verb To be involved in or a part of something. The judges chose our project to be in the finals!
3. verb To be willing to become involved in or contribute to something. I know this project isn't going to be easy, but I'm in nonetheless.
4. verb To be currently (and usually temporarily) fashionable or trendy. Haven't you heard? Wearing knee-high socks is in now!
5. verb To be in an elected position. Those guys won't be in for much longer, thanks to the upcoming election.
6. verb To be inside a particular place. The kids are all in now—I just did a head count.
7. verb To be in close association with someone or some group. In this usage, the phrase is usually accompanied by "with." I'm worried about Johnny—I think he's in with a dangerous group of people. I wish I were in with my brother's friends—they're all so cool!
8. verb To anticipate or be very likely to experience something, usually that which will be unpleasant or undesirable. In this usage, the phrase is usually accompanied by "for." They just called another general meeting with the staff. It looks like we're in for more bad news.
9. verb To be involved with or a part of something for a particular reason or purpose. More usually "be in it for." I'm not really that concerned with the nonprofit work itself. I'm in it for the boost it will give my career.
10. verb To be in prison or similarly detained for a particular reason. In this usage, the phrase is usually accompanied by "for." What are you in for? My brother is in for stealing a car.
11. verb To be participating or involved in something, often something secret or exclusive. In this usage, the phrase is usually accompanied by "on." The conspiracy ran deep, and several members of the administration were in on it. Wow, that really was a surprise. Were you in on planning this?
12. noun A countercultural gathering generally associated with the hippie movement of the 1960s. The "Human Be-In" of 1967 is perhaps the most famous example. In this usage, the phrase is typically hyphenated. Are you going to the be-in on Saturday?
1. verb To force entry into something, often a building. They called the police as soon as they heard someone break in downstairs. I had to break in—I didn't have my house key, and no one else was home!
2. verb To interrupt someone or something. I'm sorry to break in, but I have some information that might help. Mom is always using the phone in her office to break in on my conversations!
3. verb To use an object or item enough that it begins to feel comfortable or be more easily usable. Often said of shoes. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "break" and "in." It took a while to break in my new leather boots, but they sure are comfy now.
4. verb To teach or train someone to do a new job or task and thereby raise their level of experience beyond that of a novice. Don't worry, I'll break in the new hire before I assign her to your project.
5. verb To destroy a physical structure. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "break" and "in." I'll break this door in if you don't come out here right now!
6. noun An instance of forced entry into something, often a building. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated. This neighborhood has had a lot of break-ins recently. A shattered window is often evidence of a break-in.
A shelving unit, bookcase, or other storage unit that is built into the walls of a house or building. I'm disappointed that the closets in the house are so small, but at least there are plenty of built-ins.
1. verb To collapse into a hollow area below, as of a physical structure or formation. We were able to get the kids out of the house before the roof caved in.
2. verb To collapse, faint, or die, as from over-exertion. I hardly remember the end of the marathon because I caved in as soon as I crossed the finish line.
3. verb To submit, concede, or yield (to someone or something); to surrender or acknowledge defeat. Under the threat of a strike, the management caved in and agreed to reinstate annual pay increases for all employees.
4. noun A collapse into a hollow area below, as of a physical structure or formation. When used as a noun, the phrase is usually hyphenated. The fear of every miner is a cave-in.
1. To enter a particular place or thing while driving. Turn left and then drive into the parking garage.
2. To hit someone or something while driving. That guy fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a crowd of people at the parade. I lost control of my car and drove into a row of shopping carts.
3. To force something into another material or substance by hitting it. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "drive" and "in" or "into." To drive this nail into the wall, you really need to put some muscle behind it.
4. In baseball, to hit the ball and cause a runner (or runners) to score. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "drive" and "in." And with that triple, Green drove in two runs.
See also: drive
1. noun An outdoor movie theater in which people sit in their cars in front of a large screen. This phrase can also be used as an adjective to describe such a theater. I wish there were more drive-ins around here—watching a movie in your car with your family can be a lot of fun.
2. noun A restaurant where food (usually fast food) is served to patrons while they sit in their cars. Let's go get a burger at the drive-in.
3. adjective Describing the part of a business designed to serve customers seated in their cars. Here's the order for the guy who's waiting at the drive-in window.
1. verb To enter something very gently and gradually. I eased in to the bath, letting my skin acclimate to the hot water.
2. verb To move or maneuver someone or something into something else very gently and gradually. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "ease" and "in." The substance is highly reactive with this solution, so we'll have to ease it in extremely carefully. I prepared the bath and eased in the patient.
3. verb To become gently introduced or accustomed to something new, such as a job or situation. I was really stressed about beginning a job I was so unfamiliar with, but my boss assured me I would have plenty of time to ease in.
4. verb To introduce or accustom someone very gently and gradually to a new situation, condition, or circumstance. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "ease" and "in." Your grandfather has lived in the same home for over 60 years, so we have to be sure we ease him in.
5. verb In animation, to decrease the space between the frames of an animated object to indicate its deceleration. Also referred to as "slowing in." Remember to ease in when you animate something coming to a stop. The more frames you include, the smoother the stop will appear.
6. noun An instance of such an animation technique. Often hyphenated. We squash the character slightly during the ease-in to indicate the force of the sudden stop.
See also: ease
know the ins and outs (of something)
To know the particular details and nuances of a situation, task, etc. I'm not surprised he made such a stupid mistake—he doesn’t know the ins and outs of this business. Come to me if you have any questions. I've been here seven years, so I know the ins and outs.
1. verb To access a digital account or network, typically by entering personal credentials; to sign in. I'm having trouble logging in to my computer, so I haven't had a chance to check my email yet.
2. verb To allow someone to digital account or network; to sign someone in. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "log" and "in." I've having trouble accessing my account from home—any chance IT can log me in remotely?
3. To spend and record certain amount of time doing something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "log" and "in." I've logged nearly 60 hours in this game so far. Please be aware that we are unable to pay overtime at the moment, so please be sure not to log in more than 40 hours of work each week.
4. noun The act of accessing a digital account or network, typically by entering personal credentials. In this usage, the phrase is sometimes hyphenated or spelled as one word. The company network requires a log-in before you'll be given access.
5. noun One's credentials or username for accessing a digital account or network. In this usage, the phrase is sometimes hyphenated or spelled as one word. What's your user login? I'm going to see if we can find your order in our database.
1. A brief visit. Allie didn't stay long, it was just a look-in.
2. A quick glance. I only got a look-in before they closed the curtains, so I couldn't see much of what was going on inside.
3. In football, a pass to a receiver running diagonally toward the middle of the field. Primarily heard in US. This is the route I want you to run, and then Jeff will throw you a look-in, got it?
1. A gathering focused on personal pleasure involving music, drugs, and sexual acts. Margaret reminisced about when she used to attend love-ins in the '60s.
2. A situation involving lavish mutual praise and admiration. The office party became a love-in as the managers all congratulated each other on their various accomplishments.
Someone or something that is predicted to easily win a competition. Julia is a shoo-in for this year's spelling bee—she's the best speller in the whole town.
1. verb To record one's or someone else's attendance or arrival in a log book or register. A noun or pronoun can be used between "sign" and "in." All visitors must sign in before they will be allowed to see the patients. Would you mind signing your wife in? It's hospital policy.
2. verb To access a digital account or network, typically by entering personal credentials; to log in. I'm having trouble signing in to my computer, so I haven't had a chance to check my email yet. The website will ask you to sign in before you complete your purchase.
3. verb To allow someone to access a digital account or network; to log someone in. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "sign" and "in." I've having trouble accessing my account from home—any chance IT can sign me in remotely?
4. noun The act of accessing a digital account or network, typically by entering personal credentials. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated. If we make the sign-in too difficult, no one will use the app.
1. verb To participate in a non-violent protest in which participants occupy a particular space and refuse to move. Students have been sitting in since Monday to protest discriminatory enrollment practices.
2. verb To attend something as a spectator or visitor, rather than a regular or full participant. Typically followed by "on (something)." They invited me to sit in on one of their meetings to see how things normally progress. I didn't earn any credit for it, but sitting in on the class gave me a lot of useful information that I could apply to my business.
3. verb To temporarily act as a substitute for someone else, especially in a meeting or discussion-based activity. Typically followed by "for (someone)." Hi, everyone, I'll be sitting in for Mike in today's meeting. He had to fly back to Memphis last night for a family emergency. Our manager is out of the office today, so Mary will be sitting in instead.
4. noun A non-violent protest in which participants occupy a particular space and refuse to move. As a noun, the phrase is hyphenated. Students have organized a sit-in to protest discriminatory enrollment practices.
dated An organized event in which a group of people gather to smoke marijuana openly in order to protest laws restricting its sale and use. There used to be an annual smoke-in in this park that brought in people from all over the state, but when they legalized pot last year, the organizers turned into it into a celebratory festival instead.
1. In film and television, someone who stands in place of an actor while lights, cameras, and sound equipment are set up and adjusted. I got a job as a stand-in for a local television shoot. It's pretty dull work, but the pay is good!
2. By extension, anyone who acts as a substitute for the duty or role of someone else, especially on a temporary basis. The vice-president assumed she would be nothing more than a stand-in while the president recuperated from his illness, but after he died, she was forced to lead the country for real. Don't get so high and mighty with us, Jeff. You're just a stand-in while the boss is on vacation.
A light strike of a ball without great effort or difficulty to put it in the net or hole. The golfer got the ball within a foot of the hole from the fairway, then secured a birdie with a quick tap-in. The forward drew the goalie out of the box and then passed to her teammate, whose easy tap-in put them in the lead for the first time in the match.
the ins and outs
The particular details and nuances of a situation, task, etc. I'm not surprised he made such a stupid mistake—he doesn’t know the ins and outs of this business.
A piece of media, such as a book, movie, or video game, that uses or expands on the core material or content of something else as part of a marketing strategy or campaign. These video game tie-ins are usually pretty crappy, but this one's actually not bad. I'm writing a novel that acts as a tie-in to the film.
1. noun A space, typically a closet, that is large enough for one to literally walk inside it. Please tell me the closet's a walk-in. You better hope it's a walk-in, with all the stuff you own!
2. noun A customer or client who arrives or enters off the street, especially without a previous booking or appointment. Hey Bill, two walk-ins just showed up. Do we have any tables available? The clinic reserves mornings for walk-ins, but you can book an appointment for the afternoon if you prefer.
3. adjective Of or referring to such clients or customers. The doctors wanted to set up a free walk-in clinic for people who don't have health insurance. The number of walk-in customers has plummeted ever since online shopping took off.
want to know the ins-and-outs of a cat's arse
To be excessively or irritatingly curious, seeking to know the most particular details and nuances of a situation, task, etc. Primarily heard in UK. Johnny is driving me nuts on this project, wanting to know the ins-and-outs of a cat's arse. Why does he think I have the answers to everything?
1. verb To vote for a candidate not listed on the ballot by writing their name in a space provided. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "write" and "in." So many people wrote in Mrs. Daley for the position that she was nearly elected. He didn't win the primary, but a lot of people are saying they're going to write him in during the general election.
2. verb To add something to a document by writing it. It's OK if you've already printed it out—you can just write in the missing footnote at the bottom of the page.
3. verb To add something to a work of fiction, such as a story or script, often in order to satisfy some requirement. The studio wants us to write in a few more action scenes. Have you seen the new season? They wrote in a new sister character.
4. verb To send a message to an organization by mail or email. That's it for this week's show. Don't forget to write in and tell us about your favorite memories for our anniversary special. I wrote in to ask for a refund, and I actually got one.
5. noun A candidate not listed on the ballot who receives votes from voters who write the candidate's name in a space provided. He's not affiliated with any party, but he says he's trying to win as a write-in.
6. noun A vote for such a candidate. As a noun, the phrase is hyphenated. There were a lot of write-ins. Someone voted for Daffy Duck.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
break in(on someone)
1. to burst into a place and violate some one's privacy. The police broke in on him at his home and arrested him. They needed a warrant to break in.
2. to interrupt someone's conversation. (See also break in (on something).) If you need to talk to me, just break in on me. Feel free to break in if it's an emergency.
(on something) to interrupt something; to intrude upon something. (See also break in (on someone).) I didn't mean to break in on your discussion. Please don't break in on us just now. This is important.
break in (to something or some place)
to force entry into a place criminally; to enter some place forcibly for the purpose of robbery or other illegal acts. The thugs broke into the liquor store. They broke in and took all the money.
break someone in
to train someone to do a new job; to supervise someone who is learning to do a new job. Who will break the new employee in? I have to break in a new receptionist.
break something in
1. Lit. to crush or batter something to pieces; to break something down. Why are you breaking the door in? Here's the key! Who broke in the door?
2. Fig. to use a new device until it runs well and smoothly; to wear shoes, perhaps a little at a time, until they feel comfortable. I can't drive at high speed until I break this car in. I want to go out this weekend and break in the car. The new shoes hurt her feet because they were not yet broken in.
[for a roof or ceiling] to collapse. The roof of the mine caved in when no one was there. The tunnel caved in on the train.
cave in (to someone or something)
Fig. to give in to someone or something. Finally, the manager caved in to the customer's demands. I refuse to cave in under pressure from my opponent.
ins and outs (of something)
the correct and successful way to do something; the special things that one needs to know to do something. I don't understand the ins and outs of politics. Jane knows the ins and outs of repairing computers.
to indicate that one has arrived somewhere and at what time by signing a piece of paper or a list. Please sign in so we will know you are here. Did you remember to sign in this time?
sign someone in
to record that someone has arrived somewhere and at what time by recording the information on a paper or a list. I will sign you in. What is your name? Do I have to sign in everyone?
sign something in
to record that something has been received at a particular time by recording the information on a paper or a list. I have to sign this package in, then I will be right with you. should I sign in this shipment now?
(for someone) to act as a substitute for someone. (Usually involves actual sitting, such as at a meeting.) I am not a regular member of this committee. I am sitting in for Larry Smith. Do you mind if I sit in? My representative can't be here.
sit in (on something)
to attend something as a visitor; to act as a temporary participant in something. Do you mind if I sit in on your discussion? Please do sit in.
write in (to something) (for something)
to send a written request to something for something in particular. Please write in for a detailed recipe of all the dishes on today's program. I am going to write in for a clarification.
write someone in (on something)
to write the name of someone in a special place on a ballot, indicating a vote for the person. (Done when the person's name is not already printed on the ballot.) Please write my name in on the ballot. I wrote in your name on the ballot.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Enter by force, as in The thieves broke in through the back door. [Mid-1500s]Also see break into.
2. Also, break in on. Interrupt or disturb something unexpectedly, as in His assistant broke in with the bad news just as we were ready to sign the agreement, or He broke in on our private talks. [Mid-1600s]
3. Train or instruct someone in a new job or enterprise, as in Every semester she had to break in a new teaching assistant. [Late 1700s]
4. Loosen or soften with use, as in It takes a while to break in a pair of new shoes.
1. Fall in, collapse, as in The earthquake made the walls cave in. [Early 1700s]
2. Give in, admit defeat, as in The prosecutor's questions soon made the witness cave in. [Early 1800s]
3. Collapse, faint, or die from exhaustion, as in After a twenty-mile hike I caved in. [Mid-1800s]
ins and outs
1. The intricate details of a situation or process. For example, It takes a newcomer some time to learn the ins and outs of the legislative process, or David really knows the ins and outs of how this engine works. This usage alludes to the tortuous windings and turnings of a road or path. [Second half of 1600s]
2. Those with position and influence and those without, especially those in office versus those who are not, as in "Juan stood well both with Ins and Outs" (Byron, Don Juan, 1823). [Mid-1700s]
Also, log on. Enter into a computer the information needed to begin a session, as in I logged in at two o'clock, or There's no record of your logging on today. These expressions refer especially to large systems shared by numerous individuals, who need to enter a username or password before executing a program. The antonyms are log off and log out, meaning "to end a computer session." All these expressions derive from the use of log in the nautical sense of entering information about a ship in a journal called a log book. [c. 1960]
Record one's arrival by signing a register, as in He signed in both himself and his wife. [c. 1930] For the antonym, see sign out.
1. Attend or take part as a visitor, as in My son's jazz group asked me to sit in tonight. It is often put as sit in on, as in They asked me to sit in on their poker game. [Mid-1800s]
2. Take part in a sit-in, that is, an organized protest in which seated participants refuse to move. For example, The students threatened to sit in unless the dean was reinstated. [c. 1940]
3. sit in on. Visit or observe, as in I'm sitting in on his class, but not for credit. [Early 1900s]
4. sit in for. Substitute for a regular member of a group, as in I'm just sitting in for Harold, who couldn't make it.
1. Cast a vote by inserting a name not listed on the ballot, as in He asked them to write in his name as a candidate. [c. 1930]
2. Insert in a text or document, as in Please don't write in your corrections on the printed pages, but list them separately. [Late 1300s]
3. Communicate with an organization by mail, as in Listeners are being asked to write in their requests. [1920s]
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.
the ins and outs
COMMON The ins and outs of a situation or subject are all the complicated details or facts about it. Lawyers will no doubt debate the legal ins and outs of this case. There are many helpful books that can advise on the ins and outs of dieting in great detail.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
the ins and outsall the details of something.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
the ˌins and ˈouts (of something)all the details of something, which are often difficult to understand: It would take me too long to explain all the ins and outs of the problem. ♢ I don’t know all the ins and outs of the case.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To be located inside something: The spare keys are in the glove compartment.
2. To have been put or have come inside: You can close the door now; the cat is in.
3. To have successfully become a part or participant: The baseball team struggled to make the playoffs, but now they are in.
4. To have been elected or appointed to a political office: The current administration is in for at least one more term.
5. To be a consenting participant: The old bank robbers showed the young thief their plans and asked whether he was in.
6. To be fashionable or trendy: Narrow ties were in during the early 1960s and early 1980s.
7. be in for To be subject to something imminently: If you haven't read her books before, then you are in for a great surprise. Those dark clouds make me think that we are in for some wet weather.
8. be in for To participate in an activity, offering or risking something on its behalf: As far as painting the house goes, we are in for a day's work, but no more. We all placed our bets, and I was in for $10.
9. be in on To be aware of or to participate in some information shared with others or some group activity: I am not in on their plans, so I don't know what they are going to do. Are you in on our secret?
10. be in with To be on good terms with someone, especially with a group, to one's potential advantage: Although he is poor, he is in with the rich crowd and always goes on expensive trips with them.
1. To enter a place forcibly or illegally: While we were out of the house, a thief tried to break in.
2. To interrupt a conversation or discussion: We were talking about the weather when my friend broke in and said it was time to leave.
3. To loosen or soften something with use: I need to break in my new boots before I take any long hikes.
4. To train or domesticate an animal: Be sure to break in your puppies at an early age. The horses were very good to ride once the trainer had broken them in.
5. To accustom someone to a new task: The sergeant broke in the new recruits to the army way of life. It was hard to keep up with the work, but my colleagues broke me in gradually.
To give way; collapse: The sides of the snow fort caved in. The mine shaft caved in on a group of miners, but fortunately they were rescued.
1. To provide the necessary information to a computer for someone to be allowed to access computer resources; log on: I'll log you in so that you can access the library's resources. I sat at the terminal and logged in using my student account.
2. To spend some amount of time working: We've logged in 100 hours working on this project.
1. To record the arrival of someone by signing a register: We went to the front desk to sign in. I got to the hotel first and signed us in.
2. To provide the necessary information to a computer for someone to be allowed to access computer resources: I signed in on the bank's website and checked my account statement. I'll sign you in using my password so you can access the website's subscriber features.
1. To be present or participate as a visitor at a discussion or music session: The professor allowed me to sit in on one of her lectures. A guitarist will be sitting in with the band today.
2. To take part in a sit-in or similar organized protest: The protesters sat in at the construction site.
3. sit in for To act as a substitute: She will be sitting in for the usual news anchor, who is away on vacation.
1. To cast a vote by inserting some name not listed on a ballot: The members of the minority party wrote in their candidate's name on their ballots. Write me in for mayor in the next election!
2. To insert something in a text or document: I wrote in a disclaimer at the end of the article. You forgot to cite your sources for the paper, so I wrote them in for you.
3. To insert a character or scene into a narrative work: The editor insisted that the author write in a happy ending to the story. I revised the play and wrote some new characters in.
4. To communicate with some organization by mail: Please write in with a completed entry form.
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.
the ins and outs
n. the fine points (of something); the details; the intricacies. I’m learning the ins and outs of this business.
1. n. an event during the 1960s where one or more couples made love in a public place. My uncle was at one of those love-ins, and he said if anything was going on, it was going on under blankets.
2. n. an event in the 1960s where everyone became euphoric—with the help of marijuana—about love and respect for their fellow humans. Everyone at the annual company love-in was throwing love bombs around at each other.
n. an easy winner. My horse was a shoo-in. It won by a mile.
n. a young people’s public gathering of the 1960s where marijuana was smoked in open defiance of the law. My uncle was at a smoke-in. He says the reporters were getting kids to pose for shots.
n. a substitute; a temporary replacement. The audience booed the stand-in. They had paid to hear a star.
n. a connection; a liaison. I got a call from Mary—my tie-in with the mayor’s office—who says it’s all set.
1. mod. having to do with a customer who just comes in off the street. We were hoping for more walk-in trade.
2. n. a customer who walks in off the street. We had a couple of walk-ins this morning, but none of the hotel residents came.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
ins and outs, the
All the intricacies or ramifications of a situation. Originally this term referred to those in favor and those out of it, and then to those in or out of political office. As Chaucer put it in Troilus and Criseyde, “Weep if thou wolt, for out of doute, this Diomede is inne, and thou art oute.” Years later Thomas Jefferson (Writings, ca. 1814) similarly referred to “two parties, the ins and the outs.” Only in the nineteenth century did the term come to mean intricacies, referring to the windings and turnings of a complicated path or passage. Thomas Hood so used it in a late poem (“Laying Down the Law,” 1845): “The celebrated judge, too prone to tarry, to hesitate on devious ins and outs.”
A sure winner. This term comes from horse racing. The verb “to shoo” has long meant to drive or urge on. In the early 1900s corrupt jockeys would select a long shot to beat the faster horses, which would then be “shooed in” by the others. Turned into a noun, the expression now is used for a team, a political candidate, or other competitor, without any connotation of malfeasance.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer