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English definition of “on the shelf”

on the shelf

not noticed or not used: It's important to apply research in a practical way and not leave it on the shelf. mainly UK informal describes someone, usually a woman, who is not married and is considered too old for anyone to want to marry her: In those days, if you hadn't married by the time you were 30, you were definitely on the shelf.
(Definition of on the shelf from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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