pin down

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pin (one) down

1. Literally, to use one's body weight to hold someone down on the ground. My older brother always used to pin me down and pinch my arms when we were kids.
2. By extension, to try to force someone into a position where must commit to a single, precise answer or piece of information. The president never let reporters question him long enough for them to pin him down on any issue they brought up. It may seem dishonest, but it's important not to get pinned down on a topic that could hurt the company.
See also: down, pin

pin (something) down

1. Literally, to use pins, nails, tacks, etc., to secure or affix something (to something else). Remember to pin the tarp down, or it will get blown away when the storm hits! Let me just pin down this pattern onto the mannequin so I can remember the design in the morning.
2. To specify something; to establish or determine something concretely. I'd like to pin down the dates we want to fly so I can start looking at ticket prices. I think we've pinned down the cause of the electrical failures. It seems like you're struggling to pin down what your essay really trying to say.
See also: down, pin

pin someone down (on something)

 and nail someone down* (on something)
Fig. to demand and receive a firm answer from someone to some question. (Alludes to shifting from answer to answer; commit to one answer or another.) I tried to pin him down on a time and place, but he was very evasive. Don't try to pin down the mayor on anything! I want to nail her down on a meeting time.
See also: down, pin

pin something down

 and nail something down 
1. Lit to attach or affix something with nails or pins. Pin the pattern down temporarily. Nail down this piece of flooring every 12 inches.
2. Fig. to determine or fix something, such as a date, an agreement, an amount of money, a decision, etc. It will be ready sometime next month. I can't pin the date down just yet, however. I can't pin down the exact date just now.
See also: down, pin

pin down

1. Fix or establish clearly, as in The firefighters finally were able to pin down the source of the odor. [Mid-1900s]
2. Force someone to give precise information or opinions, as in The reporter pinned down the governor on the issue of conservation measures. [c. 1700]
See also: down, pin

pin down

1. To secure or fasten something using a pin or pins: The tailor pinned down the patch before sewing it on. I pinned my tie down to stop it from flapping in the wind.
2. To render someone or something immobile by or as if by holding down: We pinned down the tarp with four heavy rocks. They pinned me down on the table while the doctor removed the bullet from my leg. The platoon was pinned down by heavy machine-gun fire.
3. To establish something clearly: Doctors finally pinned down the cause of the disease. I had a strange feeling about the old house, but I couldn't pin it down.
4. To compel someone to give firm opinions or precise information: The reporter pinned the governor down on the issue of raising taxes. The newspaper tried to pin down the candidates on their positions regarding capital punishment.
See also: down, pin
References in periodicals archive ?
Further studies with the Sloan data may help pin down the physical traits of the still-elusive dark energy, Frieman notes.
From yesterday to todaFy, we've been trying to pin down the numbers.
Thwarted in my attempts to pin down, to explain Perlman's proceedings, I realized that one cannot grasp that slippery thing called art.
When the number of errors is guaranteed to be small, and one puts in sufficiently large amounts of redundancy in encoding one's transmission, then it is possible to pin down the transmitted message," Sudan says.
Calleguas General Manager Don Kendall said the water district still was trying to pin down precisely what caused the 4:20 p.
Archaeologists have for decades tried to pin down when the first farming communities appeared in Europe and how farmers spread across the continent to replace mobile groups of hunter-gatherers.
The school board spent 2-1/2 hours Tuesday night trying to pin down a definition of what it means, what kind of policy the district should have on it, and how it should be taught in class.
The connection between lupus and the nervous system has been difficult to pin down because patients don't link subtle cognitive problems to the disease, he says.
As with other types of depression, the precise cause may be difficult to pin down.
Researchers have yet to pin down paternity lines for chimps in eastern Africa, counters anthropologist William C.
Andria Witmer discovered after an errant shot failed to knock one pin down.
Because each of the young stellar groups is a different age, astronomers hope that by examining several, they can pin down the time line for the series of events necessary for planet formation.
They began to scuffle and Lucero's friends jumped out of their car and helped pin down the man, Lucero said.
From that calculation, they can pin down a value for the Hubble constant, a measure of how rapidly the universe is expanding.