dial it in

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

  • (set up well): Often, complex systems have many dials, which need to be tweaked for optimal performance. Thus, dialing it in, involves moving the various dials until the system is performing better.

Verb[edit]

dial it in (third-person singular simple present dials it in, present participle dialing it in, simple past and past participle dialed it in)

  1. To set up in a perfect or complete way.
    The mechanic dialed in the bicycle before the customer picked it up.
    • 2006, Clive Cussler, Jack Du Brul, Skeleton Coast, page 317:
      He estimated the corner of the building was forty yards away and dialed it in. The weapon made a funny, hollow bloop sound when it fired but the results were anything but comical. The grenade landed a foot from the edge of the building
    • 2006, Bill Stermer, Streetbikes: Everything You Need to Know, page 121:
      you'll need to understand its suspension system and dial it in properly
    • 2007 November, Running Times, page 6: 
      It's a brand-neu; design and, like a new model of anything, it sometimes takes some tweaking to dial it in.
    • 2007, Steve Wright, Compositing Visual Effects: Essentials for the Aspiring Artist, page 55:
      The 3D animator has control over how strong it is and can “dial it in” to get any desired amount of turbulence.
    • 2010, Ben Favret, Water Skiing and Wakeboarding, page 64:
      Start with the bindings, then the fin, and as a last measure, take out the file or sandpaper to dial it in.
  2. To give a lackluster, uninspired, or timid performance (especially when capable of doing better); to phone it in.
    The actor simply dialed in his performance, leaving even his devoted fans disappointed with the show as a whole.
    • 2006 October 14, Billboard, volume 118, page 58: 
      "I'm not sure what the kind of person who listens to him is, but I would guess it's someone who doesn't listen to mainstream, boring, dial-it-in rock."
    • 2008, Dave Zimmer, Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Biography, page 363:
      Stills added: “I never dial it in. You walk out there in front of people and ask them to pay money to see you, you'd better bring it.
    • 2009 September 5, Billboard, volume 121: 
      The fans know when you dial it in and when you're giving it that extra effort.