Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
does (exactly) what it says on the tin
(Something) does precisely what it claims or is supposed to do. Primarily heard in UK, Ireland. This budget hostel isn't glamorous but does exactly what it says on the tin: it gives you a place to sleep at a very affordable price. This no-frills antivirus software is straightforward and does what it says on the tin.
be like a cat on a hot tin roof
To be anxious and unable to sit still or relax. A: "Why is Carrie pacing?" B: "She's waiting for the doctor to call with her test results, so she's been like a cat on a hot tin roof all day."
1. A lack of musical ability, especially in relation to proper pitch. Unfortunately, most karaoke singers have a tin ear.
2. The inability to recognize subtleties in language. Don't try to joke around with him—he has a tin ear and can't distinguish sarcasm.
(little) tin god
A pompous person. My attraction for him waned after he spent the entire evening acting like a little tin god. Everyone on the school board acts like a tin god. It's so irritating!
have a tin ear
1. To lack musical ability, especially in relation to proper pitch. Unfortunately, most karaoke singers have a tin ear.
2. To be unable to recognize subtleties in language. Don't try to joke around with him—he has a tin ear and can't distinguish sarcasm.
kick the tin
1. Especially in politics, to postpone or defer a definitive action, decision, or solution, usually by effecting a short-term one instead. Often followed by "down the road." Primarily heard in UK. It looks as though they're going to kick the tin down the road again on the tax issue, but they'll have to find a lasting solution eventually.
2. To make a financial contribution; to be responsible for paying a certain amount of money. Primarily heard in Australia. We had expected my father-in-law would kick the tin for an additional $1 million investment, but he said he didn't want to put any more money into the project. After these financial crises, it's always the taxpayer who ends up kicking the tin to pay off the government's bad debts.
put the tin lid on (something)
To end a bad experience or situation in an especially negative way. Primarily heard in UK. The downgrading of the company's credit rating puts the tin lid on a disastrous year for their financial situation. I left my phone in the grocery store, my car broke down on the way home, and, to put the tin lid on it, my groceries broke through the bag as I was walking to the front door.
put the tin hat on (something)
To finalize or mark the end of something, especially in a forceful, decisive, or dramatic way. Primarily heard in UK. What put the tin hat on it for me was his insistence that we maintain the same direction for the next financial year. I resigned the very next day. The downgrading of the company's credit rating puts the tin hat on a disastrous year for their financial situation.
a cat on a hot tin roof
One who is anxious and unable to sit still or relax. A: "Why is Carrie pacing?" B: "She's waiting for the doctor to call with her test results, so she's been like a cat on a hot tin roof all day."
*busy as a beaver (building a new dam)and *busy as a bee; *busy as a one-armed paperhanger; *busy as Grand Central Station; *busy as a cat on a hot tin roof; *busy as a fish peddler in Lent; *busy as a cranberry merchant (at Thanksgiving); *busy as popcorn on a skillet
very busy. (*Also: as ~.) My boss keeps me as busy as a one-armed paperhanger. I don't have time to talk to you. I'm as busy as a beaver. When the tourist season starts, this store is busy as Grand Central Station. Sorry I can't go to lunch with you. I'm as busy as a beaver building a new dam. Prying into other folks' business kept him busy as popcorn on a skillet.
Fig. a poor ear for music; a poor hearing ability when it comes to music and distinguishing pitches. I think I had better not try to sing along with you. I have a tin ear and would ruin your performance.
busy as a beaver
Also, busy as a bee. Hardworking, very industrious, as in With all her activities, Sue is always busy as a bee, or Bob's busy as a beaver trying to finish painting before it rains. The comparison to beavers dates from the late 1700s, the variant from the late 1300s. Also see eager beaver; work like a beaver.
like a cat on hot bricks
Also, like a cat on a hot tin roof. Restless or skittish, unable to remain still, as in Nervous about the lecture he had to give, David was like a cat on hot bricks. The first expression replaced a still earlier one, like a cat on a hot bake-stone, which appeared in John Ray's Proverbs (1678). The second was popularized as the title of Tennessee Williams's play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955).
A self-important, dictatorial, petty person who imposes ideas, beliefs, and standards on subordinates. For example, The officials in these small towns often act like tin gods. The tin in this expression alludes to the fact that tin is a base metal with relatively little value. [Late 1800s]
like a cat on hot bricksor
like a cat on a hot tin roof
If you are like a cat on hot bricks or like a cat on a hot tin roof, you cannot keep still or relax because you are very nervous or impatient. Why are you shifting from one foot to the other like a cat on hot bricks? Meanwhile, Mr Richardson says he is like a cat on a hot tin roof as the anticipation builds. Note: `Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' is the title of a play by Tennessee Williams.
put the tin lid on somethingBRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
You say that something puts the tin lid on a bad situation when it is a final unpleasant event in a series. Next day, to put the tin lid on things, a hospital appointment letter for Jane arrived from the clinic.
have a tin ear
1. If someone has a tin ear, they are not able to hear and understand music well. Some people may have a tin ear but everybody has at least a basic sense of rhythm. Note: You can also say that people have a tin ear for other things that you have to listen to in order to understand them. For a playwright, he has a tin ear for dialogue.
2. If someone has a tin ear for something, they do not understand it fully. Nothing in her past suggests anything other than a tin ear for democratic politics. Compare with have an ear for something.
kick the tinAUSTRALIAN, INFORMAL
If you kick the tin, you give someone money or pay for something. Fifty per cent of our customers said they would kick the tin for an in-car premium sound system.
a tin godor
a little tin godmainly BRITISH, LITERARY
If someone behaves like a tin god or like a little tin god, they behave as if they are much more important and powerful than they really are. So what are his qualifications for acting like a little tin god?
like a cat on a hot tin roof (or on hot bricks)very agitated, restless, or anxious.
little tin goda self-important person.
Tin is implicitly contrasted here with precious metals. The phrase seems to have originated in Rudyard Kipling's Plain Tales from the Hills, where he described idols that he thought were given undeserved veneration: ‘Pleasant it is for the Little Tin Gods When great Jove nods; But Little Tin Gods make their little mistakes In missing the hour when great Jove wakes’.
1987 Fannie Flagg Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe This little tin God in the polyester suit and the three-pound shoes. So smug, so self-important, with the nurses fluttering around him like geisha girls.
kick the tinmake a contribution of money for a particular purpose. Australian informal
The ‘tin’ was originally literally a tin can into which money was thrown.
have a tin earbe tone-deaf.
like a ˌcat on hot ˈbricks(British English) (American English less frequent like a ˌcat on a hot tin ˈroof) (informal) very nervous: He’ll be like a cat on hot bricks till he gets his exam results.
(it) does (eˌxactly) what it says on the ˈtin(informal, saying) used to say that something is as good or effective as it claims to be, or that it really does what it claims to do. This expression is especially used when you are comparing publicity and advertisements with actual products: I paid £150 for this camera and am more than happy with it. It does exactly what it says on the tin!
have a tin ˈear (for something)(informal) be unable to hear the difference between musical notes or to enjoy music: Even those of us with a tin ear can recognize a waltz.
n. canned milk. This tin cow is okay in coffee or something, but you can’t drink it.
n. a snowmobile (in Alaska). Who’s out there riding the tin dog?
n. a smile with a mouth having braces. I’ll be glad when I get rid of this tin grin.
n. a soldier’s helmet. You use your tin hat for everything—washing, hauling water—you name it.
cat on a hot tin roof, like a
Skittish, nervous, ill at ease. A similar analogy—“like a cat on a hot bake-stone”—appeared in John Ray’s Proverbs of 1678. It was later replaced by “like a cat on hot bricks,” still used in the mid-twentieth century, but Tennessee Williams preferred the more picturesque “hot tin roof ” for the title of his 1955 play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
An insensitivity to conditions. The term, dating from the first half of the 1900s, was originally used for a person insensitive to music, in effect tone-deaf. In time, it was transferred to other kinds of insensitivity, as in “The President might also point out that BP is not on Americans’ most-trusted corporations list right now—partly because of its carelessness, partly because of its executive’s tin ear” (editorial, New York Times, June 12, 2010).
cat on a hot tin roof
A Southernism that meant someone who was on edge or nervous. The phrase survives as the title of Tennessee Williams's 1955 Pulitzer Prize–winning drama.