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to pull the plug: meaning and explanation

to pull the plug (on something) = to make the decision to stop something from continuing or working.

This may involve withdrawing support or finances for something (as with micro-dictations one and two). ‘Pulling the plug’ could also involve withdrawing from a process that cannot continue without you (such as a negotiation, as in micro-dictation three).

This is quite an informal and direct idiom, and sounds quite decisive and final – imagine stopping a computer or machine by pulling the plug directly out of the socket.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Dictation #1

Accent: Ireland

don’t see a sales in then we’ll .
we don’t see a major in sales in the coming then we’ll have to the plug.

About the sentence

…in the coming weeks

In the coming days/weeks/months/years is an alternative way of talking about the future. e.g. I can’t give you much information at this stage, but you’ll hear more in the coming days.

Dictation #2

Accent: Australia

Dictation #3

Accent: Scotland


Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Have you ever been in a situation where you or someone else had to decide to “pull the plug” on a project, relationship, etc? What were the factors influencing that decision?
  • What are the potential challenges in communicating the decision to “pull the plug” to stakeholders, team members, or the public? How can these challenges be addressed effectively?

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

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