take a number

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  • (file)


take a number (third-person singular simple present takes a number, present participle taking a number, simple past took a number, past participle taken a number)

  1. To queue; to wait to be served by being assigned a number and waiting for that number to be called after all previous numbers have been served in order of assignment.
  2. (idiomatic) To recognize that many others are in the same situation; recognize that one's concerns are not of high priority; be prepared to wait.
    • 1994 September 12, Stryker McGuire et al., “Sale Of The Century?”, in Newsweek:
      Wanna buy a television network? Take a number. A few years ago you would have had the field to yourself.
    • 2000 August 8, Tony Karon, “Chile Exorcises the Specter of Pinochet”, in Time:
      Even if they did decide to prosecute, the Justice Department would have to take a number and stand in a very long line.

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