To pull by the most common definition means (by Merriam-Webster)

to exert force upon so as to cause motion toward the force

so it is understandable (to me) that to pull a show/license indicates to cancel a show/license (as in to pull a show out of a pre-determined schedule or to pull a license out of its utility)

But to pull a robbery means to commit/carry out a robbery, which seems VERY different from the most common meaning of the verb.

So does pulling a request (a general use, not an IT-elated computer jargon) means.

  1. the request will be cancelled (i.e. pulled away from a system)


  1. the request will be carried out

To put the term in context, I realized the term in my case actually probably means to "carrying out the request", not "cancelling the request". Can a native speaker confirm it ?

"Typically cell requests are pulled once every day in the morning. So if you put in a request in the afternoon, it will be pulled the next morning".

Based on this, it means

a request can be pulled to a "execution list" or a "disregard list", which depends on the context and can be truly confusing. Is this correct ?


2 Answers 2


In administrative law-type and some slang lingo, pull means to remove.

  • They pulled my application for employment. [removed it from some place]

  • We were pulled from that team and put on another team.

  • "Have you pulled the invalid ballots from the ballot box?"

So, "pull a request" means to remove it from some place or separate it from other requests.

The aspect these share (semantic trait) in terms of meaning is that pull here means to remove or separate some object or person from one group and put them in another.

  • 3
    It's not exactly in common use, but my "default" understanding of to pull a [request, application, invitation,...] would be to cancel / withdraw it. On the other hand, context might make it clear the intended meaning was to fetch / produce it (the document itself, from a filing cabinet or whatever). And I expect there's a more specific sense relating to document version control systems, but I'm not well up on how push and pull "requests" work in, say, GitHub. Mar 27, 2019 at 15:25
  • 1
    to cancel or withdraw it means you remove it from the list of invitees and put it in the uninvited list. Also, with getting it from a filing cabinet: if you pull it, that means you remove it from that place and put it on your boss's desk, for example. Remove from one place and put in another is the common semantic trait for this meaning.
    – Lambie
    Mar 27, 2019 at 15:30
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 28, 2019 at 13:38

"To pull a (noun)" is a common idiomatic slang phrase meaning "to do something in the manner of (said noun)", eg. "Pull a Nixon", meaning to resign (I made that one up, as its usage is largely context-related. Here, it refers to former US President Richard Nixon's resignation). This usage is probably the closest to "pull a robbery", though I've never heard "pull a robbery" used.

I've also never heard "pull a request", although that one might be more common in certain circumstances in life than others. I suspect "pull a request" could be either depending on context, although "pull a request" sounds weird to me if used as "execute a request".

  • 1
    "pull a robbery or heist" is very common in fact. The other meaning to do something in the manner of is not relevant here. Don't you watch detective etc. movies?
    – Lambie
    Mar 27, 2019 at 17:22
  • @Lambie In those contexts, I've heard "pull off a robbery/heist. Is that what you meant?
    – user45266
    Mar 28, 2019 at 0:37

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