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in a pinch

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In an emergency, when hard-pressed, as in This music isn't what I would have chosen, but it will do in a pinch. This term dates from the late 1400s, when it was put as at a pinch (a usage still current in Britain); pinch alludes to straitened circumstances.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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