on the spot


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on the spot

1. At once in one's exact location; right then and there. Hyphenated if used before a noun. My boss grilled me about the mix-up in the report, making me explain the whole thing right there on the spot. When she found out he'd cheated on her, Sam broke up with Tommy on the spot. I'm no good at making on-the-spot decisions like this!
2. In trouble; under pressure; in a difficult position. I'm sorry for putting you on the spot back there, but I needed an answer for the investors. A bunch of money has gone missing and everyone from the accounting department is on the spot.
See also: on, spot
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

on the spot

 
1. Lit. at exactly the right place; at exactly the right time. It's noon, and I'm glad you're all here on the spot. Now we can begin. I expect you to be on the spot when and where trouble arises.
2. Fig. in trouble; in a difficult situation. There is a problem in the department I manage, and I'm really on the spot. I hate to be on the spot when it's not my fault.
See also: on, spot

put someone on the spot

Fig. to ask someone forthright questions; to demand that someone produce as expected. Don't put me on the spot. I can't give you an instant answer. The boss put Bob on the spot and demanded that he do everything he had promised.
See also: on, put, spot
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

on the spot

1. At once, without delay, as in When the boss learned Tom had been lying, he fired him on the spot. This usage suggests that one does not have time to move away from a particular spot. [Late 1600s]
2. At the scene of action, as in Whenever there's a bad accident or fire, you can be sure the station will have a reporter on the spot . This usage also employs spot in the sense of "a particular location." [Late 1600s]
3. Under pressure or in trouble, as in He's on the spot, because he can't pay back the loan. It is also phrased as put on the spot, meaning "put under pressure." For example, The reporter's question put her on the spot; she didn't want to lie or to admit her part in the scandal . [First half of 1900s]
See also: on, spot
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.

on the spot

COMMON
1. If an action is done on the spot, it is done immediately. She was found stealing money from the till and sacked on the spot. I was afraid they would kill me on the spot. Note: You can also use on-the-spot before a noun. On-the-spot fines are issued for litter dropping.
2. Someone who is on the spot is in the place where something is actually happening. The Guard has firefighters on the spot the minute a fire is sighted. Note: You can use on-the-spot before a noun to say that something actually happens in the place that you are talking about. Experts sent to Thailand have begun an on-the-spot investigation. There is little point in providing on-the-spot help while the fighting continues.
See also: on, spot
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

on the ˈspot


1 at the place where something is happening: Our man on the spot is Geoff Davies. He’s going to tell us exactly what’s happening in Cairo.
2 immediately; without any delay: The police officer asked me for my driving licence and I gave it to him on the spot.on-the-spot fines
See also: on, spot
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

on the spot

1. Without delay; at once.
2. At the scene of action.
3. Under pressure or attention; in a pressed position.
See also: on, spot
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.

on the spot

Immediately, at once; also, in a very difficult situation. Both meanings are several hundred years old. “If once they get you on the spot you must be guilty of the plot,” wrote Jonathan Swift in 1723 (To Charles Ford, Esq.), clearly meaning a bad situation. To put someone on the spot, however, appears to be an American locution of the twentieth century, and in gangster slang meant marking someone for execution. The other meaning—at once or immediately—dates from the nineteenth century. “I couldn’t stand it, sir, at all, but up and kissed her on the spot,” wrote poet William Pitt Palmer (1805–84) in “The Smack in School.” This meaning also gave rise to Johnny-on-the-spot.
See also: on, spot
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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