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press into service

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Force someone or something to perform or function, as in Can I press you into service to help people find their coats? or The funeral drew such a large crowd that more chairs were pressed into service. This idiom transfers press in the sense of “seize and force someone to serve,” as seamen once were, to other activities. It was first recorded in 1871.

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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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