What does it mean when someone says to put something on the backburner?

When someone says that something should be “put on the backburner”, it means that thing doesn’t need to be focused on since there are more important things to be done right now. That “thing”, whatever it may be, is something that will be given more attention to at a later time.

The phrase comes from cooking. If you were cooking pasta, then you would put the pasta itself on the burner that is closest to you because you will need to stir it frequently. But, the sauce will go on a burner in the back (the “back burner”) – where you will let it “simmer” or just heat up, and it will not require your full attention. Eventually, you will pay attention to the sauce when you need to turn off the heat and put it on top of the pasta.

Here’s an example of it’s usage:

Back Burner in a Sentence

Let’s put this project on the back burner for now.  
Our CEO wants us to work on another project that is
much more urgent, and needs to be finished in the
next 2 weeks.

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