Он уже и к тебе клинья подбивал, верно?

Considering that they are talking about a ladykiller, I assume this phrase essentially means "try to seduce someone", but I'm not sure how to interpret "клинья подбивать" literally. Can the perfect "подбить" be used as well?

  • found out that the idiom is also used with the preposition под кого-л. – Баян Купи-ка Aug 9 at 19:48
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The idiom doesn't always mean romantic interest, though that is the most common usage. It can be used as a substitution for "trying to gain favor with" in any situation, for example, with a boss at work. It also colors the attempt (of gaining favor) as obvious, and is most often used ironically, to poke at a person doing this.

The idiom is подбивать клинья used mostly with the imperfect form showing the process of courting. Perhaps the perfective form can be used in the infinitive.

Ну, что, не удалось тебе к ней клинья подбить? (Rare)

Смотри-ка, так и вьется вокруг нее, клинья подбивает.

It's a colloquial idiom meaning "courting"

As for a literal meaning, It's "to drive a wedge", a sharp triangle piece of wood.

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