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

Micro-listening #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.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Australia

, .
Money’s , so I’m to have to on the .
Money’s at the moment, so I’m we’re going to have to the plug on the planned .

About the sentence

…money’s tight at the moment…

If you say that money is tight then you are saying that you are in a financial situation in which you need to be very careful with money and do not have much to spare. e.g. If money weren’t so tight then we would be happy to fund this project.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: Scotland

, .
, we made to on the .
After stalled, we made the to pull the on the .

About the sentence

…after negotiations stalled

If something stalls, then it stops working, is delayed, or no longer makes any progress. e.g. Unfortunately, discussions with the union representatives seem to have stalled.


Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash