in a pinch


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in a pinch

When something ideal or preferred is not available; as a substitute. I don't have any cooking oil. Is there anything else I can add to the recipe in a pinch? Ah, this shade of lipstick will do in a pinch—it's better than nothing.
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in(to) a jam

Fig. in(to) a difficult situation. Mary cannot keep track of the many times Dave got himself into a jam. I found myself in a jam when my car overheated on the highway.
See also: jam

in a pinch

as a substitute. A piece of clothing can be used as a bandage in a pinch. In a pinch, you can use folded paper to prop up the table leg so the table won't rock.
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in a pinch

In an emergency, when hard-pressed, as in This music isn't what I would have chosen, but it will do in a pinch. This term dates from the late 1400s, when it was put as at a pinch (a usage still current in Britain); pinch alludes to straitened circumstances.
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in a jam

mod. in a difficult situation. I think I’m sort of in a jam.
See also: jam

in a pinch

When hard-pressed. The British version of this expression, “at a pinch,” dates from the fifteenth century, when William Caxton in his translation of The Book of Faytes of Armes and of Chyualrye (1489) wrote, “Corageously at a pynche [he] shal renne vpon hem.” By the time Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Black Arrow (1888) it also was put as, “It yet might serve him, in a pinch.” A related expression of more recent provenance is in a jam, which similarly implies that one is “compressed” or “squeezed,” by circumstance, into a tight spot.
See also: pinch