in a pinch

Idioms & Phrases

in a pinch

In an emergency, when hard-pressed, as in This music isn't what I would have chosen, but it will do in a pinch. This term dates from the late 1400s, when it was put as at a pinch (a usage still current in Britain); pinch alludes to straitened circumstances.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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