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Last updated at 15:25 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Episode 188: Language Point

Tim at the cafe

Push and pull

The words push and pull each have more than one meaning and they are used in lots of English expressions and idioms too. For example, Jack said "Sally hasn't exactly been pulling her weight" which means Jack thinks she hasn't been working as hard as him.

Here are some of the meanings of these two words, as well as some common expressions which use push or pull.

Meanings of push

1. use physical force, especially with your hands, to move something to a different position, usually one that is further away from you
Example: She pushed the door open and marched in to the room.

2. use emotional or intellectual force to make someone do or persuade someone to achieve something
Example: We're going to have really push ourselves if we're going to finish this report on time.

3. advertise something
Example: The magazine is just full of ads pushing make-up and lipstick.

Expressions with push

push the envelope
go to or beyond the limits of what you're allowed to do
Example: It's fine to have some nudity in film but his last movie really pushed the envelope there.

give someone the push
1 tell someone to leave his / her job
Example: She's been given the push. They had to let someone go and since she was the last in, she's the first out.

2 to end a relationship with someone
Example: I decided to give her the push when she told me she wasn't serious about our relationship.

push the boat out
spend a lot of money celebrating something
Example: They really pushed the boat out for their wedding. They must have spent a fortune on it.

push yourself forward
try to make other people notice you and pay attention to you
Example: He's always pushing himself forward, trying to get the boss's attention.

Meanings of pull

1. move something towards yourself, sometimes using physical effort Example: Can you help me pull this box over there? It's too heavy for me on my own.

2. injure a muscle by stretching it too much
Example: He can't play in the match on Saturday because he's pulled a muscle in his leg in training.

3. succeed in starting a sexual or romantic relationship with someone
Example: There were loads of beautiful people there last night. Did you pull?

Expressions with pull

pull out all the stops
do everything you can to make something successful
Example: We pulled out all the stops to make the launch a huge success.

pull the plug
prevent an activity from continuing, especially to stop giving money to fund it
Example:They've pulledthe plug on TV advertising so all our marketing now will be on radio and online.

pull a fast one
successfully deceive someone
Example: I can't believe you fell for that old trick. He pulled a fast one on you. Now he's got your money and all you've got is a worthless watch.


Tell tales out of school
Gossip, chit-chat about other people
when twp people share the role of manager
she can talk a good talk
she can say she's good at something (but that doesn't mean she can actually do it)

Episode 188 links

  1. Home
  2. The Flatmates
  3. Episode 188: Language Point