What Does Cave In to Someone Mean?

Cave In to Someone Meaning

Definition: To give in to what someone else wants.

There are two uses of the phrase to cave in.

The first is a literal sense, referring to a structure falling in on itself. This is the sense of rooftops caving in on buildings.

The second is a figurative sense, where to cave in to someone means that your will is falling in on itself – you are giving in to someone else’s will.

When you cave in, you are giving someone else’s will precedence over your own. You are doing what they want rather than what you want.

When people expect you to cave in to their will, you may feel frustrated or that other people’s feelings are not being considered.

Origin of To Cave In

Cave in definitionThis phrase has been used figuratively since the 1700s. This version of cave in comes directly from the other idiom cave in.

Like its literal version, meaning to fall inward, this idiom means that your will and desires collapse inward. When a building caves in, it is broken and unusable. Likewise, when you cave in to someone, your desires are not relevant anymore. You are doing what someone else wants instead of what you want.

Examples of To Cave In

Define cave inMothers and fathers may find themselves caving in to their children often. For example, if a parent wants to watch an action show but a child wants to watch a cartoon, the parent may cave in and put on the cartoon instead of what he or she wanted to watch.

Teamwork sometimes involves compromise, but when teammates cannot compromise effectively, one or more may cave in to the wills of the other teammates. If one person wants to meet at noon but another wants to meet in the evening, one of them may have to cave in to the other’s planned timing.

More Examples

  • Sherwood, a practical and well-liked TV executive, is not likely to cave in to Elliott’s eye-popping $8 million demand, the source said. – NY Daily News
  • Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, head of the New Wave Feminists, said she wasn’t offered an explanation for the reversal but believes that the organizers caved in to pressure from the “pro-choice feminist community.” – LA Times


To cave in to someone or something is to give up what you want to do what another person desires.