on the table: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘on the table’ mean?

"On the table" means something being discussed or considered.

Idiom Explorer

Decoding Symbolic Origins

On the table is an idiom commonly used in American English. It has various meanings and can be used in different contexts. One common meaning of this idiom is to openly and honestly discuss or consider something. When something is "on the table," it means it is actively being considered or up for discussion.

This idiom often implies that the topic at hand is of importance or significance. It suggests that the matter is being given serious consideration and not being ignored or dismissed. It is frequently used in business or negotiation settings, where different options or proposals are being discussed.

When something is "on the table," it can also refer to a physical item placed on a table. For example, if a document or a contract is "on the table," it means it is physically present and available for review or action.

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The origin of the idiom "on the table" is not known for certain. It likely originated from the act of placing an important item on a table during a discussion or negotiation. This action symbolizes bringing something to the forefront and making it the central focus of attention.

As with many idioms, the meaning of "on the table" can vary depending on the context. It is important to consider the specific circumstances and the intent of the speaker when interpreting this idiom's meaning.

"off the table" is a related idiom that is commonly used as the opposite of "on the table." If something is "off the table," it means it is no longer being considered or discussed. It suggests that the matter has been dismissed or taken out of consideration. This idiom is often used when a decision has been made or when a topic is no longer relevant.

"table talk" is another related idiom that refers to the conversation or discussion that takes place during a meal or gathering around a table. It can involve light or informal conversation, as well as more serious or meaningful discussions. Table talk is often used to refer to the casual and relaxed nature of conversations that occur during mealtime or social gatherings.

Overall, the idioms "on the table," "off the table," and "table talk" are all commonly used in American English. "On the table" signifies the act of discussing or considering something openly and honestly. "Off the table" indicates that something is no longer being considered or discussed. "Table talk" refers to the conversations that take place during mealtime or social gatherings. These idioms add depth and variety to the language, allowing for clearer and more engaging communication.

Example usage

1. The proposal to have a salary increase for employees is on the table for discussion at the company meeting next week.

2. The possibility of a merger between the two companies is still on the table, but they are still in negotiations.

3. The decision on whether to go on a family vacation this summer is on the table, and we are weighing the pros and cons before making a final choice.

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