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1. To lock something in a container or storage space. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "lock" and "away." It's very important that dangerous cleaning products are locked away when your children start crawling around the house. I locked our valuables away in a wall-mounted safe before we left for our vacation.
2. To incarcerate someone in some place, especially prison, indefinitely or for a very long time. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "lock" and "away." I hope they lock that crazy drunk driver away—he nearly killed me! In the old days, they'd lock you away for showing the symptoms of schizophrenia.
3. To isolate oneself from others; to shut oneself off from social contact. In this usage, a reflexive pronoun is used between "lock" and "away." I absolutely need to study before my big exam on Monday, so I'm going to lock myself away for the weekend.
To fight or clash. There's always tension between those two—they lock horns over everything.
1. To physically lock or trap someone or something inside a particular place or thing. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "lock" and "in." The doorknob came right off in my hand, so I'm stuck outside while the kids are locked in the house!
2. To commit someone or something to a contract. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "lock" and "in." If you sign that contract, you'll be locked into your lease for two years. The pushy sales guy tried to lock me into a contract.
3. To secure particular terms for the length of a contract or other such agreement. Call the cable company and see if you can lock in a lower rate.
4. To be involved in a fight or struggle. If those two get locked in on politics, that's all we're going to hear all night long.
5. To focus on something. Oh, I locked in on that delicious cake the minute I stepped into the party!
lock in on (someone or something)
1. To use an electronic tracking system to fix onto a particular person or thing. Once the satellite locks in on the rocket's signal, we should be able to triangulate its precise location. With proton beam therapy, we lock in on the cancerous cells and deliver radiation only to the affected tissue.
2. To fix the electronic tracking system onto a particular person or thing. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "lock" and "in on." The fighter pilot locked his missiles in on the enemy jet. We should be able to lock our homing system in on Jeff's tracking unit.
3. To focus one's gaze or attention completely on someone or something. She locked in on the handsome guy across the bar, making her way over to talk to him. Once she locks in on a new project, there's no getting in his way.
lock lips (with someone)
To kiss (someone) passionately and at length. I'll never forget locking lips with my wife for the very first time. OK, you two, quit locking lips—our train is about leave.
lock on (to) (someone or something)
1. To become able to automatically track and target someone or something. We've locked on the enemy ship, sir. Permission to fire? The fighter jet had locked on to us, so there was no option except to eject.
2. To fix one's gaze onto someone or something; to stare at someone or something with intensity. He locked on to a wealthy businessman on the other side of the bar who looked like the perfect target for his scam.
3. To fasten, attach, or grab onto someone or something, especially with great speed or intensity. He locked on to the suitcase and refused to let go. My son locked on to my leg when the man came up to talk to us.
lock onto (someone or something)
1. To use an electronic tracking system to fix onto a particular person or thing. Once the satellite locks onto the rocket's signal, we should be able to triangulate its precise location. With proton beam therapy, we lock onto the cancerous cells and deliver radiation only to the affected tissue.
2. To fix the electronic tracking system onto a particular person or thing. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "lock" and "into." The fighter pilot locked his missiles onto the enemy jet. We should be able to lock our homing system onto Jeff's tracking unit.
3. To focus one's gaze or attention completely on someone or something. She locked onto the handsome guy across the bar, making her way over to talk to him. Once she locks onto a new project, there's no getting in his way.
1. To lock the doors or other entrances into some building or so that someone or something is unable to enter from the outside. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "lock" and "out." I can't believe she locked me out of the house, just because I drunkenly kissed some girl at the bar! The car comes with a new feature that makes it impossible to lock yourself out. The factory was shuttered overnight, the owners having locked out all of the employees.
2. To prevent employees from coming to work or performing their duties during a labor dispute. The factory gates were chained shut, a clear sign to the workers that the owners had locked them all out. All electricians in the union will be locked out of further work until the dispute has been resolved.
lock the barn door after the horse has bolted
To try to prevent or rectify a problem after the damage has already been done. My father quit smoking after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, but I'm afraid he's locking the barn door after the horse has bolted.
1. To lock something in a container or storage space. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "lock" and "up." It's very important that dangerous cleaning products are locked up when your children start crawling around the house. I locked our valuables up in a wall-mounted safe before we left for our vacation.
2. To incarcerate someone in some place, especially prison, indefinitely or for a very long time. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "lock" and "up." I hope they lock that crazy drunk driver up—he nearly killed me! In the old days, they'd lock you up for showing the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
lock horns (with someone)
Fig. to get into an argument with someone. Let's settle this peacefully. I don't want to lock horns with the boss. The boss doesn't want to lock horns either.
lock (someone or an animal) (up) in (something)and lock (someone or an animal) up
to fasten the opening to something so someone, a group, or an animal cannot get out. Take Chuck and lock him up in the cell. Lock up the killer and throw away the key!
lock someone or something away
to put someone or something away in a locked container or space. You will have to lock all the medications away when the grandchildren come to visit. They locked away some cash for a rainy day. They locked it away.
lock someone or something up (somewhere)
to lock someone or something within something or some place. The captain ordered the sailor locked up in the brig until the ship got into port. Don't lock me up! The sheriff locked up the crook in a cell.
lock something in
to make something, such as a rate of interest, permanent over a period of time. You should try to lock in a high percentage rate on your bonds. We locked in a very low rate on our mortgage.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Become embroiled in conflict, as in At the town meeting Kate and Steve locked horns over increasing the property tax. This expression alludes to how stags and bulls use their horns to fight one another. [First half of 1800s]
1. Enclose, surround, as in The ship was completely locked in ice. [c. 1400s]
2. Also, lock into. Fix firmly in position, commit to something. This phrase often occurs as be locked in or into , as in She felt she was locked in a binding agreement, or Many of the stockholders are locked into their present positions. [Mid-1900s]
1. Keep out, prevent from entering. For example, Karen was so angry at her brother that she locked him out of the house. [Late 1500s] Shakespeare had it in The Comedy of Errors (4:1): "For locking me out of my doors by day."
2. Withhold work from employees during a labor dispute, as in The company threatened to lock out the strikers permanently. [Mid-1800s]
lock the barn door after the horse has bolted
Also, lock the stable door after the horse is stolen. Take precautions after damage has occurred. For example, After the burglary they installed an alarm system, but it's locking the barn door, or Deciding to negotiate now after they've been fired-that's a matter of locking the stable door after the horse is stolen . These expressions of action that is useless because it comes too late have long been proverbs in many languages and first appeared in English in the mid-1300s.
1. Close a house or place of work, fastening all the doors and windows, as in The attendant locks up at eleven o'clock every night, or Did you remind Abby to lock up? [Late 1500s]
2. Invest in something not easily converted into cash, as in Most of their assets were locked up in real estate. [Late 1600s]
3. lock someone up. Confine or imprison someone, as in The princes were locked up in the Tower of London. [c. 1300]
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.
If you lock horns with someone, you argue or fight with them. He has often locked horns with lawmakers as well as the administration. In Manhattan's densely built real estate market, developers and preservationists often lock horns. Note: The reference here is to two male animals, such as deer, fighting over a female and getting their horns caught together or `locked'.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
lock hornsengage in conflict.
The image here is of two bulls fighting head-to-head with their horns. Both the literal and figurative senses of the phrase originated in the USA, in the mid 19th century.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
ˌlock ˈhorns (with somebody) (over something)argue or fight with somebody: The lawyers did not want to lock horns with the judge.This idiom refers to the way that animals such as bulls, stags (= male deer), etc. fight with their horns or antlers.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To put something in a locked space or container, especially for safekeeping: Fortunately, we had locked away most of our valuables before the burglary. I always lock my jewelry away in a safe.
2. To put someone in confinement, especially prison; incarcerate someone: After I threatened to jump off a building, they locked me away in the asylum. The secret police would lock away anyone who criticized the president.
3. To seclude oneself: I'm going to lock myself away and finish this book.
1. To lock a door to a place leaving someone or something inside: My parents often locked me in my bedroom as punishment. We accidentally locked in the cat when we left.
2. To guarantee something for the duration of a contract: You can lock in this interest rate for the life of the loan. When interest rates fell, I locked them in at a lower rate.
3. To bind someone by contract: The contract locks us in for two years, during which time we cannot work for anyone else. Once you sign the agreement, you will be locked in for the next ten years.
4. To invest some money in such a way that it cannot easily be converted into cash. Used chiefly in the passive: The money is locked in until I turn 65.
5. To bind in close struggle or battle. Used chiefly in the passive: The wrestlers were locked in combat. The two sides were locked in a heated debate.
6. lock in on To focus on someone or something; target someone or something: The fighter pilot locked in on an enemy target and fired. The review locked in on the crude set design and failed to mention the great acting.
1. To prevent someone or something from entering a place by locking a door or entrance: The committee locked out the protesters from the meeting hall. I left the keys in the car and accidentally locked myself out.
2. To withhold work from some employees during a labor dispute: The company bosses locked the auto workers out. The management will lock out the pilots' union until an agreement is reached.
3. To exclude someone from something, as a competition. Used chiefly in the passive: Professional athletes were locked out of the competition.
1. To shut or make something secure with or as if with locks: We locked the house up and went on vacation. I locked up my bike and went into the store. The owner locks up every day at 5:00.
2. To confine or exclude something or someone by or as if by means of a lock: We locked up the dog for the night. The guards locked the criminal up in the cell. All our savings are locked up in a retirement account.
3. To become fixed in place so that movement or escape is impossible; be immobilized: I was so nervous that my knees locked up and I couldn't walk. The car's brakes locked up, and it skidded to a halt.
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.
To become embroiled in conflict.
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.
To get into an argument. Two deer, moose, or members of another antlered species who have a dispute they want to settle will face off, paw the ground, and charge at each other. Their antlers clash and often become enmeshed. They have locked horns. People who have a bone to pick can be said to lock horns too. The phrase appears in an 1865 poem by Algernon Swinburne to describe the domestic disagreement of a heifer and her mate locking horns.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price