Mike: Chubbuck, can you get out there?
Christine: Uh, no, sorry. I can't.
Mike: What do you mean, you can't?
Christine: I'm tucking in that hospital piece. I need more time.
Mike: You're shitting me. I thought you finished with that last week.
Christine: That was Part One.

This is a scene from the Movie Christine. From the context "tuck in" apparently means to wrap up, to finish off. Christine is saying she needs to wrap up her other commitment. It seems to me this sense comes from "tuck in" meaning to put someone to bed, but I haven't heard the phrase used figuratively like this. I wonder if this is the scriptwriter's creativity speaking or is the phrase idiomatic and commonly used?

  • 2
    I have seen/heard 'tuck up' used in Britain instead of 'put to bed' (which means the same thing), when discussing finishing a project. May 10, 2020 at 7:21
  • 4
    To clarify, 'put to bed' is a common figure of speech used to discuss finishing a project. May 10, 2020 at 9:22
  • The cited usage isn't at all "mainstream". As @MichaelHarvey says, the idiomatic standard here is to put to bed. I wonder if Christine (or her scriptwriter) isn't actually a native speaker. May 10, 2020 at 14:47
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica All of them appear to be: the person whom the character is based on, the actress, the screenwriter.
    – Eddie Kal
    May 10, 2020 at 15:42
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    EddieKal: I actually assumed "the Movie Christine" meant the 1983 horror movie, which is in my "To Watch" list. But I don't think those details are important - you've correctly identified the intended sense as to wrap up, to finish off, and myself and @Micheal have told you the far more common phrasing for the context. It's quite possibly you won't hear this "close match" usage ever again, so I wouldn't pay it too much mind. Sometimes scriptwriters deliberately introduce oddities specifically to (spuriously) imply "shop slang". May 10, 2020 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


to put a publication to bed = to finish the articles or doing the layout of the publication and sending it to be printed.

To avoid a cliché, the author has said "tuck in" because when you put someone in/to bed, you often tuck them in. Especially children.

The mantra in writing courses is: avoid the cliché if possible. Find a new way to say things.


I read that as squeezing in another duty, in this case "that hospital piece", into a busy schedule.

In the UK the phrase "tuck in" has meanings such as: to push the bottom of shirt between skin and waistband of trousers or a skirt; to fold the edges of bed-sheets between a mattress and the bed base when making (i.e. putting on clean bedding) a bed. A variation is to "tuck in a person" meaning to fold the bedding around a person in bed to make them comfortable and to keep out the cold. These all refer to squeezing fabric into a small gap. It is an easy extension to use the phrase for squeezing other items into small spaces.

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    No, I don't think this particular (non-standard) metaphoric usage as cited has anything at all to do with the idea of squeezing one last thing into some restricted spaced. So far as I'm concerned it's entirely a matter of inaccurately tinkering with / "creatively rephrasing" the standard put to bed as used particularly in the context of newspapers / journalists finalizing their copy and submitting it to the "print" process (but more generally extended to all contexts where a job needs to be "finished up, completed"). May 10, 2020 at 14:53

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