Put on hold

Put on hold is a twentieth century idiom. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying put on hold, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Put on hold is an idiom that means to delay, to suspend, to pause. When something is said to be put on hold, it is usually with the expectation that it will resume at some point—though it does not always resume. Related phrases are puts on hold and putting on hold. The phrase put on hold came into use in the early 1960s; it originated in the U.S. space program. The term was used when a scheduled space launch had to be suspended; sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently. The idiom put on hold was then quickly applied to temporarily suspending a phone conversation while the caller waited on the line. Today, the phrase is an idiom that can be applied in any situation.


 “We ended up moving forward with it and we didn’t have all of the rights in place — I guess there were still some legalities that needed to come into place that put it on hold.” (Seventeen Magazine)

So, that means Louisville’s annual events that usually draw thousands will be put on hold for at least a few more months. (Courier-Journal)

A legal challenge to cuts in Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments has been put on hold amid a public consultation on the scheme’s potential shutdown. (Belfast Telegram)

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