English Idioms Daily Blog

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Put Something on the Back Burner


Image: winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To put something on the back burner means to make something second priority and put it on hold or delay dealing with it until a later time. When something is on the back burner it is low priority and is not getting immediate attention. For example, I could say:

Since I had my children, I have put my social life on the back burner.

In other words, my social isn’t my top priority anymore...but, perhaps, one day, I will make it one of my priorities again.
Where does this idiom come from? The picture above can help answer this question. If you look, you’ll see that the stove, like most stoves, has four burners - the assumption that our idiom to
put something on the back burner makes is that the pots on the back burner get less attention than the pots on the front burners.
Here are some headlines using the English idiom to put something on the back burner:

Clinton: Immigration put on the back burner because of healthcare, economy
-thehill.com, April 25 2010, Jordan Fabian

Does football season put politics on the back burner?
-blogs.ajc.com, September 2 2011, Kyle Wingfield

Just as one can put certain political issues or even politics, in general, on the back burner, one can also put topics on the front burner, i.e. make them top priority and give them immediate attention. What issues has your country put on the front burner recently?

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