pull the plug


pull the plug


  • to kill or discontinue
  • stop something
  • prevent any going on process
  • bring something to an end

Example Sentences

  1. The doctors decided to pull the plug on Uncle Bill when he stopped responding to all the treatment courses that they took.
  2. I have decided to pull the plug on this project since it is turning out to be a sink hole which is taking in money and not yielding any returns.
  3. You cannot pull the plug on the funds now when the team needs the money the most before they can get into the big leagues.
  4. The old man decided to pull the plug on spending everything that he earned on his children. They should be able to take care of their own expenses.
  5. I cannot pull the plug on this project because it is quite close to my heart.
  6. United States pulled the plug of financial support to Pakistan.


The term comes from the medical world where pulling the plug on the machines that are keeping people alive could literally result into death. It used to be an informal way or euphemism to say that someone is being left to die naturally by pulling out all the machines on the person. The phrase has caught on and now means killing the supply of things that are keeping a project / venture alive.

Share your opinions3 Opinions

Corey Estoll
My grandmother and father used that term back in the 1950s. They were referring to pulling plug in bathtub. You are correct!!

‒ Caryl Lynn Young July 22, 2022

Pulling the Plug may have originated from the North of England Plug Riots in 1842.

Here is a quote from The Rochdale Observer 13-7-1985:

… August 1842 the infamous Plug Plot Riots shook the Northwest.
The full significance of these events is still a subject of controversy but the immediate causes were a demand for higher wages and (later) a call for the granting of a Charter. The disturbances took the form of a move towards a general strike.
William Robertson describes how, in Rochdale, as in other areas, a crowd would gather at a local mill and if the premises was not immediately shut down, the plug was knocked out of the boiler “which emptied itself and put the fire out at the same time’ thus incapacitating the mill.”

‒ Cathy Crabb September 17, 2021

Pulled the plug existed as an idiom before life support existed. It either came from pulling the plug out of a drain such as in a sink or tub or pulling out an electrical cord. That second origin is similar to the origin you suggested but predates your origin and is not morbid.

‒ Corey Estoll August 24, 2021

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