Expressions used in Everyday Spoken English in Social and Professional contexts

(put) on the spot

on the spotput on the spot
Meaning(s)
1) cause someone to have to answer a difficult question or make a difficult decision
  • How to MemorizePopularity HighProfessional HighSocial
    • put someone on the spot by asking them a difficult question
  • Analysis

    When you ‘put someone on the spot’ you embarrass them by asking a difficult question or forcing them to answer in front of others with no warning or preparation. Putting someone 'on the spot' can also involve putting someone in a position where they are forced to make a difficult decision when they cannot avoid it. Being put 'on the spot' is unpleasant, people in the media often put celebrities or politicians 'on the spot' by asking difficult or uncomfortable questions during a live broadcast for example where the interviewee cant avoid answering. An 'on the spot' fine is one which is issued immediately or which must be paid to the authorities before you are permitted to leave a situation where you have broken the law.

  • Professional Examples (Basic)
    1. Claire really put our boss on the spot when, in front of the whole office, she asked him why he had got his bonus but no one else had. He looked very embarrassed.
    2. I got angry at Ian for putting me on the spot yesterday. He came to me with a complex problem and then demanded an instant answer. I told him to just leave it with me and I'd get back to him.
    3. I received an on the spot fine for parking in the wrong area yesterday. I don't think it was marked clearly but I won't make that mistake again. It cost me $80.
  • Professional Examples (Advance)
    1. In the meeting this morning, Jane was asked totally out of the blue to immediately come up with 3 concepts that could increase sales. Somehow, she managed it. I guess she's just brilliant at thinking on the spot!
    2. You really put me on the spot in front of that client. I was so embarrassed. Please don't ask me any questions like that in front of clients again.
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