Put A Pin In It: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 22, 2023

The phrase "put a pin in it" signifies temporarily halting a discussion or idea to revisit it at a later time. It's typically used in conversations where several topics are being discussed, and there's a need to keep the conversation focused or on track.

In short:

"Put a pin in it" This phrase means to postpone or defer a topic or idea, with the intention of coming back to it later.

What Does "Put a Pin in It" Mean?

The idiom means to temporarily stop discussing or pursuing something with the intention of returning to it at a later time. Rather than dropping the matter entirely, you are pausing the conversation or activity. It's often used in meetings or group discussions to manage time and maintain focus on the main topic.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning include:

  • Suggests a temporary pause or deferment
  • Associated with managing discussions or ideas
  • Indicates an intention to return to the topic or idea at a later time

Where Does "Put a Pin in It" Come From?

The phrase "put a pin in it" is believed to originate from the practice of placing a pin or other marker on a map or chart to mark a location or point of interest for future reference. It more likely originates from an earlier phrase, "Stick a pin there," which means "make a note of that." Some sources claim it comes from a World War II reference to putting a pin in the safety lever of a hand grenade. The phrase is now used in a more general sense to mean "to stop something temporarily." For example, if you are working on a project and you need to take a break, you might say, "I'm going to put a pin in this and come back to it later."

Historical Example

"I wish to be honorable. Tie a knot there. I branded you for a cheat, a brute, and a coward; put a pin in there!"

- Richard Edney and the Governor's Family, Sylvester Judd, 1850

10 Examples of "Put a Pin in It" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • The meeting was running overtime, so the manager suggested we put a pin in it and continue next week.
  • I can see we're not going to resolve this today, so let's put a pin in it for now.
  • Let's err on the side of caution and put a pin in our vacation plans.
  • Let's put a pin in the budget discussion; it's like I'm talking to a brick wall anyway.
  • I think we should put a pin in this debate and gather more information before making a decision.
  • After a lengthy discussion, they decided to put a pin in the issue and revisit it at the next board meeting.
  • We decided to put a pin in our anniversary getaway and seize the moment with our kids.
  • For the love of Pete! Can we put a pin in this argument; I think we're getting off track.
  • They had to put a pin in their home renovation project when unexpected expenses came up.
  • We'll put a pin on that topic and discuss it in our next team meeting.

Examples of "Put a Pin in It" in Pop Culture

The phrase "put a pin in it" often appears in various forms of media, particularly in movies or television shows involving discussions or debates.

Some examples include:

  • "Marketing message + repetition = success. Put a pin in this" is a quote from the book Your First 365 Days in Real Estate by Shelley Zavitz.
  • "While Moody was compiling his research to prove that we don't actually die, and five years before the publication of his findings, Spangler put a pin in his own idea" is a quote from the book The In-Betweens by Mira Ptacin.
  • "Put a Pin in It" is a song by Lina Tullgren from the album Visiting.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Put a Pin in It"

Several alternative expressions convey a similar meaning to "put a pin in it."

Some of these include:

  • Hold that thought
  • Let's come back to this
  • Let's postpone the discussion
  • Table this for now
  • Let's revisit this later
  • Circle back (to something)

These alternatives can be used interchangeably depending on the context and the exact intent of the speaker.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Put a Pin in It"

  • What does "put a pin in it" mean?

"Put a pin in it" is an idiomatic expression suggesting to postpone a discussion or to temporarily hold an idea or plan.

  • How can I use "put a pin in it" in a sentence?

Example: "This is an important issue, but we're out of time. Let's put a pin in it and discuss it in our next meeting."

  • Where does the idiom "put a pin in it" come from?

The phrase likely originates from the practice of literally putting a pin in a document or note to mark something important for future reference.

  • Can people use the phrase in written communication?

Yes, the phrase can be used in both informal and formal written communication, including emails, reports, and text messages.

  • Are there any regional differences in using the phrase?

While the phrase is widely used in English-speaking countries, alternative expressions may be more common in some regions.

  • Can strangers use the phrase "put a pin in it"?

Yes, the phrase is not context-specific and can be used in any situation that involves deferring a discussion or an idea.

  • Is it okay to use the phrase when talking about a group of people?

Yes, it can be used in this context, such as "Let's put a pin in that suggestion and move on to the next item on the agenda."

  • Is it okay to use the phrase to express postponement?

Yes, the phrase is primarily used to indicate the temporary postponement of a topic or idea.

  • What's the difference between "put a pin in it" and "table it"?

Both phrases indicate postponement, but "table it" is more commonly used in formal settings or meetings, while "put a pin in it" can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

  • Can one use the phrase in a professional context?

Yes, the phrase is suitable for professional settings, particularly in meetings or discussions when a topic needs to be deferred.

Final Thoughts About "Put a Pin in It"

In conclusion, the idiom "put a pin in it" is a versatile phrase often used to suggest a temporary pause or delay in a discussion or idea. This phrase is commonly used in various contexts, including professional, informal, and even popular culture.

Key aspects of the phrase:

  • Used to suggest a temporary delay or postponement
  • Applicable in various settings and contexts
  • Widely recognized and understood across English-speaking regions

While "put a pin in it" is a versatile and widely recognized phrase, it's crucial to understand its proper usage in context. Whether you're in a business meeting or having a casual conversation, this idiom can help you effectively communicate the need to defer a topic or idea for a later time.

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