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blank canvas

A person or thing that has nothing of substance or permanence within or imprinted upon him, her, or it, such that it can be easily filled with entirely new things. Refers to a painter's canvas that has yet to be painted on. Children's minds are blank canvasses, so we have to be sure to provide them with enriching education and opportunities so as to give them the best possible future. I love moving into a new house and having a blank canvas to make my own! These freshmen are all blank canvasses—we can get them to believe anything we tell them!
See also: blank, canvas

blank look on (one's) face

A facial expression with no emotional articulation, usually implying befuddlement, incomprehension, or being overwhelmed by something. I tried to explain to him why what he did was wrong, but he just sat there staring at me with that blank look on his face. Claire carried a blank look on her face for weeks after the traumatic accident.
See also: blank, face, look, on

that's (someone or something) for you

That trait, characteristic, behavior, etc., is so typical of the way someone or something usually acts, behaves, or operates. Insider trading and horribly unscrupulous backdoor deals? Yep, that's Wall Street for you. A: "I can't believe he cheated on her with several different women while they were together." B: "What a pig. That's men for you."

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.
See also: blank, fill

a blank cheque

1. Literally, a cheque presented to someone with the amount left blank, so that it can be written out for the desired total. Mom, can you give me a blank cheque so I can fill it out when I buy my school supplies?
2. By extension, the freedom or permission to spend as much money or use as much resources as needed in pursuit of a desire or goal. The company was having a difficult time retaining good employees, so the manager was given a blank cheque to increase salaries and restructure his department. After the fifth murder, the city's police officers were given a blank cheque to use whatever resources they needed in order to find the serial killer before he struck again.
See also: blank, cheque

a blank check

1. Literally, a check presented to someone with the amount left blank, so that it can be written out for the desired total. Mom, can you give me a blank check so I can fill it out when I buy my school supplies?
2. By extension, the freedom or permission to spend as much money or use as much resources as needed in pursuit of a desire or goal. The company was having a difficult time retaining good employees so the manager was given a blank check to increase salaries and restructure his department. After the fifth murder, the city's police officers were given a blank check to use whatever resources they needed in order to find the serial killer before he struck again.
See also: blank, check

at point-blank range

In close proximity to a person or thing. Typically used to describe a nearby target in shooting. Be careful when firing at point-blank range!
See also: range

blank out

1. To unexpectedly forget something. Can you remind me of your name? I'm so sorry, but I'm completely blanking out right now!
2. To avoid thinking about or remembering something, often because it is stressful or traumatic. Many trauma victims try to blank out the horrific things that have happened to them.
3. To erase or conceal something (such as text or an image) that one does not want widely disseminated. You should blank out the last paragraph before submitting this paper to your professor. Be sure to black out all the other names on this list before you put it in the employee's file.
See also: blank, out

(one's) mind goes blank

To suddenly forget or be unable to think of something. Even though I'd been preparing for the interview for days, my mind went blank as soon as they started asking questions. She went to introduce her husband to the producer, but her mind went blank when she tried to remember their name.
See also: blank, goes, mind

draw a blank

1. To be unable to think of something. I'm sorry, I'm drawing a blank—what's your name again? I actually did know the answer to that question, I just drew a blank when the teacher called on me, OK?
2. To be unable to find something. Mom, I looked for those Christmas decoration all over the house, but I've drawn a blank. Are you sure you didn't give them to grandma?
See also: blank, draw

fire blanks

slang Of a man, to have no sperm in his semen. We already know that Emma is healthy, so if she can't get pregnant, I must be firing blanks.
See also: blank, fire

go blank

1. To unexpectedly forget something. Can you remind me of your name? I'm so sorry, but I've gone completely blank right now!
2. To lose consciousness. My blood sugar dropped so low during the meeting that I went blank and woke up on the floor.
3. To no longer show a picture, as of a television screen. If the TV goes blank again, just smack it a few times—that should help.
See also: blank

point-blank

1. adjective Resolute and inflexible. The suspect gave a point-blank denial of having anything to do with the robbery.
2. adjective Blunt; direct and to the point. Such a point-blank accusation really undermines the relationship I thought we had together.
3. adjective At an extremely close distance, such that a projectile is very unlikely to miss and will deal the maximum amount of damage possible. Not knowing the gun was loaded, he pulled the trigger and ended up shooting his friend at point-blank range.
4. adverb Resolutely and inflexibly. The boss refused point-blank to give me extra time off to help care for my sick mother.
5. adverb Bluntly; directly and to the point. For all his faults, at least John will ask point-blank when he needs something from you, rather than dancing around the issue like most people.

blank check

freedom or permission to act as one wishes or thinks necessary. He's been given a blank check with regard to reorganizing the workforce. The new manager has been given no detailed instructions about how to train the staff. He just has a blank check.
See also: blank, check

blank something out

 
1. Lit. to erase something, as on a computer screen. Who blanked out the information that was on my screen? Please blank your password out as soon as you type it.
2. Fig. to forget something, perhaps on purpose; to blot something out of memory. I'm sorry, I just blanked your question out. I blanked out your question. What did you say?
See also: blank, out

draw a blank

 
1. . Fig. to get no response; to find nothing. I asked him about Tom's financial problems, and I just drew a blank. We looked in the files for an hour, but we drew a blank.
2. Fig. to fail to remember something. I tried to remember her telephone number, but I could only draw a blank. It was a very hard test with just one question to answer, and I drew a blank.
See also: blank, draw

fill in

[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?
See also: fill

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.
See also: fill

Fill in the blanks.

You can figure out the rest.; You can draw a conclusion from that. (Fixed order. See also fill something in.) Mary. What happened at Fred's house last night? Bill: There was a big fight, then the neighbors called the police. Mary: Then what happened? Bill: Fill in the blanks. What do you think? John: They had been lost for two days, then the wolves came, and the rest is history. Jane: Yes, I think I can fill in the blanks.
See also: blank, fill

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.
See also: fill

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.
See also: fill

give someone a blank check

 and give a blank check to someone 
1. Lit. to give someone a signed check that lacks only the amount or payment which can be filled in by anyone. Sally sent a blank check to school with Billy to pay for his books.
2. Fig. to give someone freedom or permission to act as one wishes or thinks necessary. He's been given a blank check with regard to reorganizing the workforce. The manager has been given no instructions about how to train the staff. The owner just gave him a blank check. Jean gave the decorator a blank check and said she wanted the whole house done.
See also: blank, check, give

give someone a blank look

 and give someone a blank stare
to look back at someone with a neutral look on one's face. After I told her to stop smoking, she just gave me a blank look and kept puffing.
See also: blank, give, look

one's mind went blank

Fig. someone's mind has experienced total forgetfulness. He knew all his lines in rehearsal, but his mind went blank when he went before an audience.
See also: blank, mind

blank check

Unrestricted authority, a free hand, as in I'll support most of the chairman's agenda, but I'm not ready to give him a blank check for the company's future . Literally this term signifies a bank check that is signed by the drawer but does not indicate the amount of money, which is filled in by the person to whom it is given. [Late 1800s]
See also: blank, check

draw a blank

Fail to find or remember something, as in He looks familiar but I've drawn a blank on his name. This expression alludes to drawing a lottery ticket with nothing on it (so one cannot win a prize). [Early 1800s]
See also: blank, draw

fill in

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.
See also: fill

look blank

Be expressionless, appear dumbstruck or overwhelmed. For example, When I asked her how to get to the hospital, she looked blank. [c. 1700]
See also: blank, look

draw a blank

COMMON
1. If you are trying to find someone or something and you draw a blank, you cannot find them. Note: Originally, to draw a blank meant to be given a losing ticket in a lottery. I searched among the bottles and drew a blank.
2. If you are trying to find out about something and you draw a blank, you fail to find out about it. Note: Originally, to draw a blank meant to be given a losing ticket in a lottery. We asked if they'd been in. We drew a blank.
3. If you draw a blank, you are unable to remember something or to answer a question you are asked. Note: Originally, to draw a blank meant to be given a losing ticket in a lottery. Asked what her son's first words were, Deirdre drew a blank. Why do we recognise a face, but sometimes draw a blank when it comes to the name?
4. In a sporting contest, if a team or competitor draws a blank, they do not score any goals or points, or win any races. Note: Originally, to draw a blank meant to be given a losing ticket in a lottery. Goal-shy Raith drew a blank at home yet again. He now leads Pat Eddery, who drew a blank in the title race.
See also: blank, draw

fire blanks

BRITISH
If someone fires blanks, they try hard but fail to achieve something. Dalian and his fellow attackers continued to fire blanks against Liverpool and it was left to full-back Staunton to provide United's first goal. Note: Blanks are gun cartridges which contain explosive but do not contain a bullet, so that they do not cause any injuries or damage when the gun is fired.
See also: blank, fire

a blank cheque

COMMON
1. If you give someone a blank cheque to do something, you give them complete authority to do what they think is best in a difficult situation. Note: `Cheque' is spelled `check' in American English. De Klerk had, in a sense, been given a blank cheque to negotiate the new South Africa. The president was effectively given a blank check to commit the nation to war. Note: This expression is used mainly in talking about politics.
2. If you describe an amount of money as a blank cheque, you mean it is unlimited. Note: `Cheque' is spelled `check' in American English. We are not prepared to write a blank cheque for companies that have run into trouble through poor management. Note: This expression is sometimes used literally to mean that someone gives another person a cheque without an amount of money written on it.
See also: blank, cheque

point-blank

1. If you say something point-blank, you say it very directly and firmly, without explaining or apologizing. The army apparently refused point-blank to do what was required of them. Mr Patterson was asked point blank if he would resign. Note: Point-blank is also an adjective. We received a point-blank refusal.
2. If someone or something is shot point-blank, they are shot when the gun is touching them or extremely close to them. He fired point-blank at Bernadette. Note: Point-blank is also an adjective. He had been shot at point-blank range in the back of the head.

blank on

v.
To forget or fail to remember something; draw a blank on something: I blanked on her name even though we had just been introduced.
See also: blank, on

blank out

v.
1. To erase or cover something so that it cannot be seen or read: Please blank out the incorrect information on this form. I didn't want them to see my letter on the computer screen, so I blanked it out. Some of the words in the document had been blanked out to protect people's privacy.
2. To suddenly forget what one was about to say: My neighbor blanks out on my name every time we meet. I was about to say something important, but I blanked out!
3. To deliberately forget or stop thinking about something, especially something unpleasant: I've blanked out most of those sad memories. The suffering patient tried to blank out the pain.
See also: blank, out

fill in

v.
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.
See also: fill

draw a blank

To fail to find or remember something.
See also: blank, draw
References in periodicals archive ?
Other key components include: front mic connector for space-saving installation, dynamike control, VoiceLock, switchable noise blanker and limiter, and instant channel 9.
This feature, together with the integrated multipath noise blanker, allows the MT1384 solution to enable clear sound with minimal noise and interference, even in the most critical receiving situations.
With Andy Johnson out, they're in the right shape to serve up both ends of a blanker at Villa.
Weaver added: "I think people look blanker when they're young.
AM quality is improved through use of a noise blanker, coherent detection and improved interference rejection through digital IF filtration.
At the Celtic v Liverpool game, Motty was straight up to the Hoops chaps with a notebook - Morton Bighorse, Reggae Blanker, Henry Clarsen.
The integrated AM noise blanker detects incoming AM peaks as they are barely arising and immediately initiates the appropriate counter-measures.
Chelsea's blanker in Barcelona didn't impress the bookies much - the Catalans are still general favourites to qualify on Wednesday at 8/11, and with away goals in mind that's a fair price for a bet.
This feature, together with the integrated multipath noise blanker, allows the 1383 series to produce clear sound with minimal noise and interference, even in the most critical receiving situations.
Each product, the Maintenance Data Recorder for the Apache Longbow, the Interference Blanker Unit for the F/A-18E/F, and the Automatic Target Recognition Unit for the SLAM ER Plus, represents current technology in disparate product lines; and demonstrates our broad appeal to major prime contractors to design, develop and manufacture a broad spectrum of products.
The WIU's internal controller is based on hardware and software recently developed by Strategic Technology for use in its new F/A-18 Interference Blanker Unit (IBU), now being flight tested on a F/A-18F at China Lake.
Third quarter financial results reflect a delay in receiving funding for the Maintenance Data Recorder and the Interference Blanker Unit until July, despite notification of the awards in April.