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[pahyp-lahyn] /ˈpaɪpˌlaɪn/
a long tubular conduit or series of pipes, often underground, with pumps and valves for flow control, used to transport crude oil, natural gas, water, etc., especially over great distances.
a route, channel, or process along which something passes or is provided at a steady rate; means, system, or flow of supply or supplies:
Freighters and cargo planes are a pipeline for overseas goods.
a channel of information, especially one that is direct, privileged, or confidential; inside source; reliable contact.
verb (used with object), pipelined, pipelining.
to convey by or as if by pipeline:
to pipeline oil from the far north to ice-free ports; to pipeline graduates into the top jobs.
in the pipeline,
  1. Informal. in the process of being developed, provided, or completed; in the works; under way.
  2. Government Informal. (of funds) authorized but not spent.
Origin of pipeline
First recorded in 1855-60; pipe1 + line1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for in the pipeline


a long pipe, esp underground, used to transport oil, natural gas, etc, over long distances
a medium of communication, esp a private one
in the pipeline, in the process of being completed, delivered, or produced
verb (transitive)
to convey by pipeline
to supply with a pipeline
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for in the pipeline



1859, "continuous line of pipes," from pipe (n.1) + line (n.). Figurative sense of "channel of communication" is from 1921; surfer slang meaning "hollow part of a large wave" is attested by 1963.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for in the pipeline

in the pipeline

adjective phrase

(also in the hopper or in the works) Being prepared, processed, or worked on; on the fire: almost 10 times that amount in infrastructure projects were in the pipeline/ We got a little gizmo in the works that'll give them a duck-fit (1955+)

adverb phrase

Riding inside the curled-over front of a wave (1963+ Surfers)



Directly communicated: a pipeline review


  1. A channel of communication, esp a direct and special one: You'd think he has a pipeline to Jesus (1921+)
  2. A channel or course for routine production, processing, etc: We'll have fewer men in what we call the ''pipeline'' who are moving (1955+)

Related Terms

in the pipeline, pipe

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with in the pipeline

in the pipeline

In process, under way, as in The blueprints for the new machine are in the pipeline, but it will take months to get approval. [ ; 1940s ]
Also see: in the works
Budgeted for something but not yet spent, as in There's $5 million more in the pipeline for the city schools. [ ; second half of 1900s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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