pull the plug on

Idioms & Phrases

pull the plug on

  1. Discontinue, end, as in The government pulled the plug on that program. [First half of 1900s]

  2. Remove all life-supporting equipment, as in The family debated whether it was time to pull the plug on him. [Second half of 1900s] Although this idiom undoubtedly alludes to cutting off electricity to an electrical device, it originally referred to the removal of a stopper that flushed an old-style toilet.

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