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Let's say the pipe in my bathroom does not let water flow through it because something like hair or debris is in the pipe. In this situation, we say "the pipe got clogged" (something is inside the pipe).

We say "the key got stuck in the lock" to mean we can not get the key out of the lock.

Similarly, "the pipe got stuck" might be interpreted that we can not get the pipe out of something and it does not mean there is something inside the pipe.

My question:
Is there any extra meaning of "X got stuck" to mean there is something in X.?

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  • 15
    "There's something stuck in the pipe" or "The pipe's clogged up
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 21 at 10:14
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    @Mari-LouA: Yes, or "The pipe is blocked"
    – psmears
    Jan 23 at 10:37

2 Answers 2

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To say something is "stuck" means that it, itself, cannot move. Hence the key in the lock - the key is "stuck". The lock itself can be said to be "jammed", "blocked" or "unusable" because of "the key that is stuck in it".

To say a pipe is "clogged", "clogged up", or "blocked" means there is something in it which cannot move and is preventing what should be travelling through it from moving.

To say that "the pipe is stuck" would suggest you were trying to move the pipe itself but couldn't because something was preventing it from moving.

In summary a pipe is blocked, jammed, or clogged. It is never stuck (unless you are trying in vain to move the pipe itself). However material can be blocked, jammed, clogged or stuck IN THE PIPE.

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    This answer mentions the word "jammed." I was about to suggest that this word does work both ways, like what Tom was looking for: The printer is jammed" and "there is paper jammed in the printer." Jan 23 at 22:38
  • @AndyBonner Yes, good point. The pipe gets jammed and you find things jammed in it.
    – WS2
    Jan 24 at 14:35
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No, when a thing gets stuck it can’t move from its surroundings. And here the meaning doesn’t involve whether the pipe can move, but rather whether something else can pass through it.

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