Phoning It In Featured Image

To Phone It In (English Idiom)

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.


Video Lesson

Phoning It In (English Idiom Meaning)


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

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