After a stressful day, relaxing in a comfortable chair, putting on some soothing sounds, and reading something light and entertaining are all good methods to get ready for some restful sleep.

I thought 'put' is a transitive verb but here we see "on" saw I wonder why there is "on".

Could any one explain? I know the meaning due to context.

  • 'playing some recorded music that will be soothing' (presumably from switching on the radio or putting on a disc, though nowadays it may well be other media). Feb 25, 2021 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


This idiom might be hard to understand if you've never used a record player before.

To put something on some other thing can be used to mean that you physically pick up thing1 and place it on top of thing2. For example, you can put your keys on a table.

The idiom "to put some music on" comes from the time where in order to listen to music, you actually did physically put a record on the turntable of the record player. And before that, on the grammophone.

So, we go from

  • to put a record on the record player to
  • to put a record on to
  • to put some music on to
  • to put some (jazz / tunes / sounds / Foo Fighters) on

You could even hear something like to put some Miles on, which would mean that you listen to a recording of Miles Davis.

And even though the days where you physically placed a recording medium onto a player mechanism, the idiom persists to this day, where we typically don't even have physical mediums we store our music on.

  • It looked convincing at first glance - but thinking a bit further afield, I simply can't believe the rationale for idiomatic Every night we put the news on after dinner is that radios and televisions are a bit like record players. In any case, we also put the radio on before breakfast. Feb 25, 2021 at 16:06
  • By the time of the very first programmatic radio transmission (i.e. the first one that was not simply a navigation or test signal, or used for communication), the gramophone was twenty years old, the phonograph thirty years old. I can certainly imagine the older technology having influenced language by then. Feb 25, 2021 at 17:09

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