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1. To physically surround, encircle, or approach someone or something. As the opposing troops closed in on us, I knew we would never win the battle.
2. To trap or confine someone or something in a particular space. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "close" and "in." The blizzard has closed us in, unfortunately, and we won't even be able to go skiing.
3. To approach very quickly or become imminent, as of a deadline. I procrastinated, and now the deadline for my paper is really closing in!
4. To overwhelm or engulf someone, as of emotions. For a long time, I couldn't drive because feelings of fear closed in every time I got behind the wheel.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
close someone or something in (something)
to contain someone or something in something or some place; to seal someone or something inside something. Don't close the bird in such a small cage. Don't close me in! Leave the door open.
close in(on someone or something)
1. Lit. to move inward on someone or something. The cops were closing in on the thugs. They closed in quietly and trapped the bear.
2. Fig. [for threats or negative feelings] to overwhelm or seem to surround someone or something. My problems are closing in on me. I feel trapped. Everything is closing in.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Surround, enclose, envelop, as in The fog closed in and we couldn't see two yards in front of us, or She felt the room was closing in. [c. 1400]
2. Also, close in on or upon . Draw in, approach, as in The police closed in on the suspect. [Early 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.
1. To surround and advance on a person or thing: The police located the escaped prisoner and closed in. Scientists closed in on the cause of the disease.
2. To appear to be coming in from all sides: Problems of every sort are closing in on me.
3. To be about to occur; be imminent: We had better hurry, the deadline is closing in.
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.