phone it in

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Merge-arrow.gif It has been requested that this entry be moved to phone in(+).


phone it in ‎(third-person singular simple present phones it in, present participle phoning it in, simple past and past participle phoned it in)

  1. (Should we move(+) this sense?) to choose to deliver a message by telephone when etiquette demands the effort and respect conveyed by in person communication
  2. (idiomatic) To fulfill a responsibility with a minimum effort rather than the appropriate level of effort.
    • 1998 January 12, “It's All About Timing”, TIME:
      But here was someone who could have been paid regally for just phoning it in for another year or two willing instead to throw that all away
    • 2000 April 26, Candy Sagon, “All Talk, No Cooking”, Washington Post:
      his new show with Julia Child -- "Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home" on WMPT Channel 22 -- is a clever marketing stroke, but at times both of these veteran teachers seem to be phoning it in.
    • 2008 October 6, “Getting Offensive; How Will Voters Respond?”, ABC GMA:
      And I think our campaign put a lot more on the line, frankly, to try to solve that problem than Senator Obama, who tried to phone it in.
  3. (Should we move(+) this sense?) to make an unseemly, timid performance; to be restrained and timid when bold action is called for