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be nip and tuck
slang To have a very close margin between the competitors in a contest or competition. This race has been nip and tuck, and we won't know who has won until the final vote is counted.
nip and tuck
1. noun A cosmetic surgery procedure, often (but not always) one performed on the face. Many women consider getting a nip and tuck as they age, but I think my wrinkles make me look distinguished.
2. noun A minor change to improve something, often the appearance of something. The house just needs a little nip and tuck before it is ready to go up for sale.
3. adjective Of a contest or competition, having a very close margin between the competitors. This race has been nip and tuck, and we won't know who has won until the final vote is counted.
4. adverb Very closely competing; head-to-head. The two teams went nip and tuck down to the final seconds of the game.
tuck (something) around (something or some place)
1. To place something gently but snugly around something else. I began tucking socks, underwear, and T-shirts around the breakable objects in my suitcase. You'll want to make sure you tuck plenty of packing foam around that thing before you ship it.
2. To hide something in several different locations within some place. She tucked chocolate eggs around the yard for the kids to find on Easter morning. My dad was an alcoholic, so he tucked bottles of booze all around the house.
1. To hide or store someone or something in a safe or secluded space. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tuck" and "away." He quickly tucked the winnings away inside his coat pocket, lest he draw unwanted attention to himself. I tucked away all the love letters your father used to write to me when we were young in a box somewhere in this wardrobe. Police have tucked the witness away in a safe house where the mobsters will never get to him.
2. To eat a large amount of food with a great, voracious appetite. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tuck" and "away." He tucked away three full helpings of Thanksgiving dinner before moving on to dessert. My, my, you sure can tuck quite a lot away, can't you?
1. To fold or gather something, typically a fabric, and push it under or into something else. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tuck" and "in." Would you tuck the sheets in, please? You should tuck in your shirt, or you'll look like a slob for your interview.
2. To place something inside of something else, typically something small, in order to secure it. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "tuck" and "in." She tucked the money in an envelope and slipped it under the door. I tucked your glasses in the side pocket of your jacket.
3. To contract or pull in something, such as a body part. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tuck" and "in." Be sure to tuck in your arms and legs after you jump off the diving board. You'll have to tuck your arms in to squeeze through.
4. To place someone, typically a child, in bed and ready them for sleep, often by actually tucking the bedsheets around them. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tuck" and "in." Do you want me or Mommy to tuck you in tonight? I Just tucked in the kids, so we have the rest of the night to ourselves.
5. To begin eating. Often used as an imperative. OK, tuck in before the food gets cold! The hungry child tucked in as soon as the food was in front of him.
tuck into (something)
1. To place or secure someone or something into some snug location. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "tuck" and "into." I tucked the card discretely into my pocket. Jimmy still can't fall asleep unless I tuck him into bed. I had to tuck my skirt into my waistband so it would get muddy while I crossed the swamp.
2. To commence eating a meal or some piece of food, especially with enthusiasm or gusto. I was so glad to tuck into my sandwich after the long, arduous hike up the mountain. I always get great satisfaction out of watching the whole family tuck into a meal I've prepared.
1. To raise something up and place or secure it in a snug or secure location, especially one that is out of the way. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tuck" and "up." Would you mind tucking the curtains up into the windowsills so I can vacuum the floors? I had to tuck up my skirt into my waistband so it would get muddy while I crossed the swamp.
2. To draw and hold one's legs, knees, or feet to a higher point. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tuck" and "up." Just make sure you tuck up your knees and keep your head down before impact. We both tucked our legs up on the couch and threw the blanket over us as the movie began.
Hidden, either intentionally or incidentally by elements in the surrounding area. The cabin is tucked away in a grove of trees, so you won't even be able to see it from the road. Don't worry about the gems—they've been safely tucked away.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
nip and tuck
Fig. almost even; almost tied. The horses ran nip and tuck for the first half of the race. Then my horse pulled ahead. In the football game last Saturday, both teams were nip and tuck throughout the game.
tuck into something
to begin eating something vigorously. The kids really tucked into the stew. I could see from the way that they tucked into their meal that they were really hungry.
tuck someone in(to) somethingand tuck someone in
to place someone into something carefully; to wrap someone in blankets or something similar. Father tucked Jimmy into bed an hour later than he should have. Please tuck in Jimmy.
tuck something around someone or something
to wrap something snugly around someone or something. I tucked crumpled newspapers around the cups in the box to keep them from breaking. Molly-Jo tucked the covers around the baby.
tuck something away
1. Lit. to hide or store something away. Tuck this away where you can find it later. Can you tuck away this money somewhere?
2. Fig. to eat something. The boys tucked away three pizzas and an apple pie. When I was younger, I could tuck away my dinner in no time at all.
tuck something in (to) somethingand tuck something in
to fold or stuff something into something. Please tuck your shirttail into your pants. Tuck in your shirt tail. When you make the bed, you have to tuck the sheets in.
tuck something up
to raise up some part of one's clothing and attach it temporarily. She tucked her skirt up and waded through the flooded basement. She tucked up her skirt.
tuck something up (under something)
to place or push something, such as cloth, up under something. Tuck the sheet up under the mattress when you make the bed. Tuck up the sheet under the mattress when you make the bed.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
nip and tuck
Very close so that the advantage or lead of competitors keeps shifting, as in It was nip and tuck whether they would deal with the bill before Congress adjourned. The precise allusion in this term has been lost. [Early 1800s] Also see neck and neck.
1. Eat heartily, as in He tucked away an enormous steak. [Colloquial; mid-1800s] Also see tuck into.
2. Hide, put in storage, as in She had several hundred dollars tucked away. [c. 1900]
Thrust in the edge of or end of something, such as bed linens or a shirt; also, make a child secure in bed by folding in the bedclothes. For example, Tuck in your shirt; it looks awful hanging out of your pants, or Mother went upstairs to tuck in the children. [First half of 1600s]
Eat heartily or greedily, as in For a two-year-old he really tucked into his food. [Early 1800s]
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.
nip and tuckINFORMAL
In a competition or contest, if it is nip and tuck, it is impossible to say who will win because both sides are performing equally well. It was nip and tuck throughout as the players struck the ball with equal passion. It was nip-and-tuck from start to finish. Note: One explanation for this expression is that it comes from sword-fighting, where a `nip' is a light touch and a `tuck' a heavier blow. Another is that it comes from horse racing, where it means the same as `neck and neck'.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
nip and tuckvery closely contested; neck and neck.
The phrase, which emerged in the US in the 19th century, probably came from the field of sewing or tailoring.
2002 Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society The rough and tumble Senate race is generally regarded as nip and tuck, likely to be decided by a close margin
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To put something in an out-of-the-way, snug place: She tucked away her wallet under all of the socks. He tucked the files away in the back of the filing cabinet. The cabin is tucked away in the mountains.
2. To store something in a safe spot; save something: The child tucked away some candy. I'll bet my neighbors have tucked millions of dollars away.
3. Slang To consume some food heartily: The hungry farmer tucked away three steaks. The food left over from lunch was gone by dinnertime, since I tucked it all away during the afternoon.
1. To gather something up and fold, thrust, or turn in so as to secure or confine it: The teacher told the boys to tuck in their shirts. I threw the sheet over the bed and tucked it in at the corners.
2. To make someone secure in bed for sleep, especially by tucking bedclothes into the bed: I tucked in my daughter and said good night. The babysitter tucked the little boy in.
3. To draw in some body part; contract something: She tucked in her arms and shook her head. The turtle tucked in its head.
4. Slang To begin to eat heartily: Dinner was served, and we tucked in.
1. To gather something up and fold or thrust it into something so as to secure or confine it: I wrote the number on a piece of paper and tucked it into my pocket.
2. To make someone secure in some bed for sleep, especially by tucking bedclothes into the bed: After the children put on their pajamas, I tucked them into bed.
3. Slang To begin to eat something heartily: We tucked into a stack of pancakes.
1. To put someone or something in a snug spot: The babysitter tucked the children up soundly in bed. I tucked up the horses in the barn.
2. To put something in an out-of-the-way, snug place: The cabin was tucked up among the pines. I tucked my hair up under a wool cap.
3. To draw up some body part into a tuck position: The diver tucked up her legs for a somersault. The gymnast tucked his knees up to his chest during the dismount.
4. To assume a tuck position: The flight attendants advised the passengers to tuck up for a rough landing.
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.
nip and tuck
mod. so close as to be almost the same; neck and neck. They ran nip and tuck all the way to the finish line, but Tom won the race.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
nip and tuck
A very close contest. The ultimate source of this phrase has been lost, but it appears to have originated in nineteenth-century America. An early example is, “It will be like the old bitch and the rabbit, nip and tack [sic] every jump” (Quarter Race in Kentucky, 1836). It is used in the same way as neck and neck.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer