Examples of “To Phone It In” in TV & Movies
- FRIENDS – Season 1, Episode 10, The One With the Monkey
Ross: (Watching Marcel and talking to Rachel) I wanted this to work so much. I mean I’m still in there, changing his diapers, pickin’ his fleas… but he’s just phoning it in. Just so hard to accept the fact that something you love so much doesn’t love you back.
Ross is describing playing with his monkey, Marcel, and he says that Marcel is phoning it in. This is a common English idiom. When you phone something in, you’re giving the minimum effort required in order to do an “OK” job at something.
If you phone something in, you’re providing what was asked for. However, you are not giving any effort. You are showing that you don’t really care about the job, and you don’t care if the quality of the job is high or not. You just want the job to be done.
Generally speaking, it’s a bad thing to phone something in.
While we often say this about work, Ross also can say it about Marcel. Marcel’s “job”, in this situation, is to be a fun friend who enjoys playing. But, Marcel is doing the minimum expected behaviour. It’s obvious that Marcel isn’t 100% committed to having fun.
So, he is phoning it in.
Examples in the Real World
- Article: RadioX – ‘Why Stereophonics are one of Britain’s greatest live bands’
Excerpt: “There are one two veteran bands out there that have been accused of “phoning it in”, but Stereophonics isn’t one of them.”
- Article: ‘It’s Dangerous to Play It Safe When Pitching to Existing Healthcare Clients’
Excerpt: “If you’re going to ‘phone it in’, the chances are you aren’t going to win.”
- Article: ‘Law And Order: SVU’s Mariska Hargitay Talks How Long She’d Like To Stay On The Show’
Excerpt: “Season 16 was good, and we said Season 17, we’re going to phone it in.”