To be very proficient at a given activity. Derived from having someone's phone number on speed dial; the skill is so familiar that it is easily accessed. Used in climbing, rafting, and kayaking sub-cultures, though not exclusively.
That guy has got that climbing route dialed-in.
Last edited on Dec 14 2001. Submitted by Che H. from Seattle, WA, USA
on Dec 14 2001.
I believe the etymology is more about machine dials (and gauges), perhaps even precise micrometer dial settings.
I heard the phrase "dialed-in" long before cellphones became common (in the late 1990s). A Viet Nam war vet neighbor of mine was using this expression in the mid-90s: "We had one guy who was a screw-up, till he got dialed-in." (This neigbor was also, later, an automotive engineer for Toyota and Ford.)
The connotation was usually "The drilling rig is dialed-in." Or, "The pump is dialed-in. Turn it on." Meaning, all of the various gauges and dials are fully within optimal settings.
I believe this has to do with machine dials, perhaps even micrometer dials, as in similar roots to "fully miked-out."
I'm pretty sure it refers to the adjustment of an old analog radio dial until a station was totally clear. In the old days you had to slowly turn the dial and you would get static if you were off the signal by even a small amount. Thus, dialed in means that you're getting the full effect, the real deal, the best experience.