There are 2 main definitions of pin in English:

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pin 1

Pronunciation: /pin/


1A thin piece of metal with a sharp point at one end and a round head at the other, used especially for fastening pieces of cloth.
Example sentences
  • One of them cleverly decorates a vase by drawing plant leaves using a sharp pin, while another shapes small frog-like figures to be put on ashtrays.
  • To adjust the fit, stick the tapes on the underneath side to the front of the nappy or use grips or pins to fasten a cloth nappy.
  • She had already filed down one end of the pin to have a sharp point and thin width; it had never hurt to be prepared before.
tack, safety pin, nail, staple, fastener
1.1A small brooch or badge.
Example sentences
  • Jewellery in the form of bracelet, rings, pins and earrings have been used universally since time immemorial.
  • The cufflinks, lapel pins and brooches have been made in Orkney and are available only to MSPs and parliament visitors.
  • In my satchel I had a black leathern pouch stuffed with silver pieces, and the tiny red one, full of rings and pins and brooches and chains.
1.2 Medicine A steel rod used to join the ends of fractured bones while they heal.
Example sentences
  • The operation was success and her femur was pinned together with three large metal pins.
  • Surgeons at St James's Hospital in Leeds, where she was treated, thought she may lose her legs but managed to save them with a variety of metal implants, screws, plates and pins.
  • They removed damaged tissue and inserted bolts and pins, trying to piece together his shattered bones and tendons.
1.3A metal peg that holds down the activating lever of a hand grenade, preventing its explosion.
Example sentences
  • I woke the other day with this quote floating around in my head ‘When you remove the pin, Mr. Hand Grenade is no longer your friend.’
  • Kerry didn't see an opportunity; he saw a hand grenade with the pin taken out.
  • Orr simply walked across the sand, clambered on to one of the tanks, ‘popped’ the pins on his hand grenades and moved over the edge of the hatch.
1.4 short for hairpin.
Example sentences
  • Pull your hair back and attach the pins vertically on both sides.
  • Tuck the ends of your hair under the knot and secure with a bobby pin.
1.5 Music A peg around which one string of a musical instrument is fastened.
Example sentences
  • ‘You give people individual notes like the little pins in a musical box’, he chided the composer.
2A short piece of wood or metal for various purposes, in particular.
Example sentences
  • Do not buy those pre-made short pins which I believe are sold by Pika.
  • The design of the blade grips with pins and the short throat indicate this saw was always a hacksaw.
  • This short pin, driven through a hole drilled through the knob's shank and the spindle, was hidden by its rose when in place on the door.
2.1(In bowling) one of a set of bottle-shaped wooden pieces that are arranged in an upright position at the end of a lane in order to be toppled by a rolling ball.
Example sentences
  • Wandering among its pillars, I felt like an ant among the pins of a bowling alley: 134 awesome skittles, each more elaborately decorated than the last.
  • They have 6 Mexican boys working for the YMCA bowling alley setting pins.
  • And this idea is related to the ending of the film, where you see the strings that pull on the pins in the bowling alley.
2.2A metal projection from a plug or an integrated circuit that makes an electrical connection with a socket or another part of a circuit.
Example sentences
  • These pins plug into the circuit board of the product for which the chip is intended.
  • The circuit couples the speaker connection of the first pin to the microphone connection of the second pin.
  • Through holes are also provided on the board for user expansion via a 96 pin DIN connector.
2.3 Golf A stick with a flag placed in a hole to mark the hole’s position.
Example sentences
  • His third shot out of the sand sees the ball roll 20 feet past the pin but he holes the tricky par putt.
  • Can you imagine wanting to play golf without greens, targets, pins, or holes.
  • In a round that included three birdies and seven pars, she also claimed near pins on holes eight and fifteen, and the long putt on hole nine.
3 (pins) informal Legs: she was very nimble on her pins
More example sentences
  • Even if you can't sing, can't dance but have a half decent set of pins and can play football, a new reality TV series wants to hear from you.
  • If my auld pins were half a century or so younger, I'd give it a go meself.
  • For those with THE perfect pins, hemlines from micro short and slim fitting will suit individual tastes.
4 Chess An attack on a piece or pawn, which is thereby pinned: the pin of the black queen by the white rook
More example sentences
  • In order to differentiate between the White and Black pieces, the Black ones have small pins or pips on the top.
  • Black breaks the pin caused by White's dark-squared Bishop while developing a piece and preparing to castle.
  • Black still has the pin against the undefended rook on h1, so it becomes a question of whether Black can defend his knight more times than White can attack it.
5British historical A half-firkin cask for beer.
Example sentences
  • The gas (IN) fitting of a pin-lock-style keg has two pins; the beer fitting has three.

verb (pins, pinning, pinned)

1Attach or fasten with a pin or pins in a specified position: her hair was pinned back pin a note on the door
More example sentences
  • One young woman recalled the way her badges had been pinned to her school blazer; another said she'd never forget Leigh's smile.
  • Mikey pins a large decorated badge of Jackie Robinson on the Golem, who smiles.
  • Attach and pin the pre-curled hair wefts around the base of the ponytail anchoring to the previously placed bobby pins.
1.1 (pin something on) Fix blame or responsibility for something on (someone): don’t pin the blame on me
More example sentences
  • Gagliano tried to pin the blame on the bureaucrats responsible.
  • These qualities can occur in any shape of family and in any kind of childcare, so we shouldn't get caught up in pinning the blame on single parents or working mothers - it's the emotional dynamics which count.
  • In an attempt to shore up his credibility, Chirac tried to distance himself from the referendum debacle by pinning the blame on his prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin.
blame for, hold responsible for, attribute to, impute to, ascribe to;
lay something at someone's door
informal stick on
1.2Hold someone firmly in a specified position so they are unable to move: she was standing pinned against the door
More example sentences
  • Inside a small apartment, Adam was pinned against the door with a hand across his mouth.
  • The man, who has not been named, had to be released by firefighters after he was pinned against a fence by the lorry at a Weymouth industrial estate on Wednesday morning.
  • Anthon moved so fast, Kiki hardly had time to react and when she did, she was pinned against her car with Anthon's hand at her throat.
hold, press, hold fast, hold down;
restrain, pinion, immobilize
1.3 Chess Hinder or prevent (a piece or pawn) from moving because of the danger to a more valuable piece standing behind it along the line of an attack.
Example sentences
  • Since the black queen is pinned to the black king by the white rook, the queen cannot be moved off the e-file.
  • White Bishop on e2 is pinned to the White King.



(as) neat (or clean) as a pin

Extremely neat or clean.
Example sentences
  • Their mini daytime diner is neat as a pin, but clearly dated.
  • My house is bursting with love and sunshine, bright and neat as a pin inside, and my husband and I put our feet under our huge dog Ralph to keep warm.
  • A house that's clean and neat as a pin gives the impression that the property is easy to maintain, while clutter and grime suggest the house lacks storage space and needs a good deal of upkeep.

hear a pin drop

Used to describe absolute silence.
Example sentences
  • And if you can hold eight hundred people in dead silence and hear a pin drop you know something's going right.
  • There was a minute's silence for Paul and you could have heard a pin drop.
  • At one point he says not only can he hear a pin drop but can hear it dropping it through the air.

pin one's ears back

Listen carefully.
Example sentences
  • It's pinning their ears back, throwing out question after question you know they can't answer correctly and then attacking every single syllable they toss up from their defensive crouch.

pin one's hopes (or faith) on

Rely heavily on: retailers were pinning their hopes on a big-spending Christmas
More example sentences
  • When astrophysicist Joseph Smith, Ph.D., was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1984, he may have been tempted to pin his hopes on stardust.
  • Many Hispanics pin hopes on pope's visit.

Phrasal verbs


pin someone down

Restrict the actions or movement of an enemy by firing at them.
Example sentences
  • Growling in rage under her breath, Syd let go of her bad arm and charged toward the enemy, pinning him down.
  • If you're not firing, the enemy will fire at you, pinning you down.
  • PFC Thompson set up his machine gun in the path of the onslaught and swept the enemy with withering fire, pinning them down momentarily, thus permitting the remainder of his platoon to withdraw to a more tenable position.
1.1Force someone to be specific and make their intentions clear.
Example sentences
  • It's very hard pinning people down on exactly what they that think is going on and how they feel about it.
  • Oh I don't know, Mother, you can't pin these kids down to an exact hour.

pin something down

Define something precisely.
Example sentences
  • Robert Weisbuch's analysis of the poem is the most eloquent argument I've read for refusing to pin the poem down to the kind of allegorical reading I am doing here.
  • I wish I had access to Lexis-Nexis right now, because I'm sure I could pin this story down if her old columns for the NY Post are up there.
  • ‘Why do we need to pin it down,’ asked one of the presenters, ‘when its potential is that it is happening all the time?’


Late Old English pinn; related to Dutch pin 'pin, peg', from Latin pinna 'point, tip, edge'.

  • Pin is one of the words adopted from Latin by the Anglo-Saxons before they invaded Britain. Its source is Latin pinna ‘feather’, which could also mean ‘point, tip, edge’, and from that developed the sense ‘peg’, the earliest sense of the word in English and still found in mechanics. The sense of pin ‘thin metal fastener’ had developed by 1250. Use of the word to mean ‘skittle’ (as in ninepins) dates from the late 16th century. A pinafore (late 18th century) was originally an apron with a bib pinned afore or on the front of a dress. The pin in pin money was the decorative kind that women used to fasten their hair or clothing. The phrase, dating from the end of the 17th century, first referred to an allowance made to a woman by her husband for personal expenses such as clothing. See also panache, pen

Words that rhyme with pin

agin, akin, begin, Berlin, bin, Boleyn, Bryn, chin, chin-chin, Corinne, din, fin, Finn, Flynn, gaijin, Glyn, grin, Gwyn, herein, Ho Chi Minh, in, inn, Jin, jinn, kin, Kweilin, linn, Lynn, mandolin, mandoline, Min, no-win, Pinyin, quin, shin, sin, skin, spin, therein, thin, Tientsin, tin, Tonkin, Turin, twin, underpin, Vietminh, violin, wherein, whin, whipper-in, win, within, Wynne, yin
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There are 2 main definitions of pin in English:

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Pronunciation: /pin/
(also PIN number)


An identifying number allocated to an individual by a bank or other organization and used for validating electronic transactions.


1970s: short for personal identification number.

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