n. & v.
1. a a small thin pointed piece of esp. steel wire with a round or flattened head used (esp. in sewing) for holding things in place, attaching one thing to another, etc. b any of several types of pin (drawing-pin; safety pin; hairpin). c a small brooch (diamond pin). d a badge fastened with a pin.
2 a peg of wood or metal for various purposes, e.g. a wooden skittle in bowling.
3 something of small value (don't care a pin; for two pins I'd resign).
4 (in pl.) colloq. legs (quick on his pins).
5 Med. a steel rod used to join the ends of fractured bones while they heal.
6 Chess a position in which a piece is pinned to another.
7 Golf a stick with a flag placed in a hole to mark its position.
8 Mus. a peg round which one string of a musical instrument is fastened.
9 a half-firkin cask for beer.
--v.tr. (pinned, pinning)
1. a (often foll. by to, up, together) fasten with a pin or pins (pinned up the hem; pinned the papers together). b transfix with a pin, lance, etc.
2 (usu. foll. by on) fix (blame, responsibility, etc.) on a person etc. (pinned the blame on his friend).
3 (often foll. by against, on, etc.) seize and hold fast.
4 Chess prevent (an opposing piece) from moving except by exposing a more valuable piece to capture.
Phrases and idioms:
on pins and needles in an agitated state of suspense. pin down 1 (often foll. by to) bind (a person etc.) to a promise, arrangement, etc.
2 force (a person) to declare his or her intentions.
3 restrict the actions or movement of (an enemy etc.).
4 specify (a thing) precisely (could not pin down his unease to a particular cause).
5 hold (a person etc.) down by force. pin one's faith (or hopes etc.) on rely implicitly on. pin-feather Zool. an ungrown feather. pin-high Golf (of a ball) at the same distance ahead as the pin.
1. hist. an allowance to a woman for dress etc. from her husband.
2 a very small sum of money, esp. for spending on inessentials (only works for pin-money). pins and needles a tingling sensation in a limb recovering from numbness. pin-table a table used in playing pinball. pin-tuck a very narrow ornamental tuck.
1. a photograph of a popular or sexually attractive person, designed to be hung on the wall.
2 a person shown in such a photograph. pin-wheel a small Catherine wheel. split pin a metal cotter pin passed through a hole and held in place by its gaping split end.
Etymology: OE pinn f. L pinna point etc., assoc. with penna PEN(1)