dial it in

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



  • (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. Very probably, it began as a military term used in artillery and naval gunnery; e.g. "We have the enemy dialed in."


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
    • 2018 November 17, Running Times, number 351, 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, number 41, 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, number 35:
      The fans know when you dial it in and when you're giving it that extra effort.