American Idioms and Expressions


This database is a comprehensive collection of all the American idioms and slang available. American Idioms are many and varied. We hope you enjoy our collection. We are adding more all the time. .

Get a leg up
What does "Get a leg up" mean?
To get a boost or advantage.I could get up a 5:00 am to get a leg up on my competition, but I don't think so.

This phrase may incorrectly invoke images of a dog raising its leg.
In fact "Getting a leg up" is from the act of an equestrian receiving help in mounting a horse. The helper would create a foothold by cupping the hands to heft the rider upward, throwing a leg up and over the steed.
What does "Gramps" mean?
Grand-fatherHey Gramps, "Will you take me fishing today?"

Grand-father is often shortened to Gran'pa or simply Gramps.
Take care not to refer to an older male in this fashion unless you have a relationship that permits this type of slang to be used or you might end up offending the older person.
get going
What does "get going" mean?
leave. "Look at the time! I'd better get going!"

get it
What does "get it" mean?
understand something (often negative). "I don't get it. What do you mean?"

get a kick out of something
What does "get a kick out of something" mean?
find something amusing. "I really get a kick out of listening tochildren talk. They say some very funny things."

get lost!
What does "get lost!" mean?
go away"I wish he'd get lost and stop bothering me. Idon't want to talk to him!"

get on one's nerves
What does "get on one's nerves" mean?
irritate someone; make someone upset. "I know you like that song, but it's getting on mynerves. Can you play something else?"

get a move on
What does "get a move on" mean?
hurry"If you don't want to be late, you'd better get amove on."

get one's wires crossed
What does "get one's wires crossed" mean?
: be confused or mistaken about something. A: "Bill said there was a meeting this morning. Don'twe have one?" B: "No. The meeting's tomorrow. I guess Bill got his wirescrossed."

get out of hand
What does "get out of hand" mean?
become out of control; become badly managed. "Your absences are getting out of hand, Bob.You'd better do something quickly to improve the situation if youwant to keep your job."

Get real!
What does "Get real!" mean?
Be realistic! / Don't be naive.A: "I'm going to Las Vegas. I know I'll win a lot ofmoney!"B: "Get real! You'll probably lose a lot of money!"

get up and go
What does "get up and go" mean?
energy. "I'm really tired. I don't have any get up andgo."

give someone a hand (1)
What does "give someone a hand (1)" mean?
(1): help someone. "I can't do this alone. Can you give me ahand?"

give someone a hand (2)
What does "give someone a hand (2)" mean?
(2): applaud (to show respect or appreciation for someone/something). "John's done a wonderful job with The ESL Caféon the Web. Let's give him a hand!"

go with the flow
What does "go with the flow" mean?
take things as they come. "There's no need to worry. Everything will be OK ifyou just go with the flow."

grab a bite
What does "grab a bite" mean?
get something to eat. "I'm really hungry. Would you like to grab abite with me?"

What does "green" mean?
inexperienced."I don't think you can depend on Jack to do that jobby himself. He's too green."

gain ground
What does "gain ground" mean?
to go forward, to make progressThe toy company is gaining ground in their effort to sell more products.

game that two can play
What does "game that two can play" mean?
a good or bad strategy that two competing sides can both useThe insults from my friend are a game that two can play and if she wants to continue then so can I.

gang up on (someone)
What does "gang up on (someone)" mean?
to attack someone in a groupThe children tried to gang up on the boy but he ran away.

gas up
What does "gas up" mean?
to fill up a gas tankWe must gas up before we leave on our holiday tomorrow.

gear up for (something)
What does "gear up for (something)" mean?
to prepare for somethingThe city is gearing up for the Olympic games.

gee whiz
What does "gee whiz" mean?
used as an exclamation to show surprise or other strong feelings"Gee whiz! Are we really going to go to France for our holiday?"

generous to a fault
What does "generous to a fault" mean?
to be too generousMy friend is generous to a fault and he sometimes gives too much to his friends.

get a bang out of (someone or something)
What does "get a bang out of (someone or something)" mean?
to receive special pleasure from someone or somethingMy father gets a bang out of the funny birthday cards that we send him.

get a break
What does "get a break" mean?
to get an opportunity or good dealI got a break when my friend sold me his car for a cheap price.

get a bright idea
What does "get a bright idea" mean?
to have a clever thought or idea occur to you (often used as sarcasm)My father got the bright idea that he should buy a motorcycle.

get a checkup
What does "get a checkup" mean?
to receive a physical examination by a doctorI go to the doctor every year to get a checkup.

get a clean bill of health
What does "get a clean bill of health" mean?
to be pronounced healthy by a doctorI got a clean bill of health when I went to see the doctor.

get a dirty look from (someone)
What does "get a dirty look from (someone)" mean?
to receive a frown from someoneI got a dirty look from the man who was sitting next to my crying child.

get a feel for (something)
What does "get a feel for (something)" mean?
to become accustomed to something and learn how it works, to learn how to do somethingI am beginning to get a feel for my new job.

get a fix on (something)
What does "get a fix on (something)" mean?
to receive a reading of a distant object by electronic meansWe were able to get a fix on the island and took the boat safely to the harbor.

get a foothold (somewhere)
What does "get a foothold (somewhere)" mean?
to find a starting point somewhereThe new political party is beginning to get a foothold in the big cities.

get a grasp of (something)
What does "get a grasp of (something)" mean?
to begin to understand somethingI am beginning to get a grasp of how to operate the new computer system.

get a grip of oneself
What does "get a grip of oneself" mean?
to take control of one`s feelingsThe man got a grip of himself and calmed down.

get a head start (on someone or something)
What does "get a head start (on someone or something)" mean?
to start earlier than someone or something, to start earlier than usualWe tried to get a head start on our holiday.

get a kick out of (someone or something)
What does "get a kick out of (someone or something)" mean?
to enjoy someone or somethingMy father got a kick out of seeing his old school friend.

get a load of (someone or something)
What does "get a load of (someone or something) " mean?
to take a good look at someone or something"Get a load of that man over there with the four dogs."

get a load off one's feet
What does "get a load off one's feet" mean?
to sit down and relaxI sat down and tried to get a load off my feet.

get a load off one's mind
What does "get a load off one's mind" mean?
to express what one is thinking or worried aboutI talked with my supervisor and was able to get a load off my mind regarding our recent conflict.

get a lot of mileage out of (something)
What does "get a lot of mileage out of (something)" mean?
to get much use from something (like a car)I hope to get a lot of mileage out of the new sneakers that I bought last week.

get a lump in one's throat
What does "get a lump in one's throat" mean?
to feel like there is something in one's throat (like you are going to cry)My sister got a lump in her throat when she watched her daughter's graduation.

get a move on
What does "get a move on" mean?
to hurry up"Please get a move on. We are already three hours late."

get a raw deal
What does "get a raw deal" mean?
to receive unfair or bad treatmentThe secretary got a raw deal when she was forced to work late everyday.

get a rise out of (someone)
What does "get a rise out of (someone)" mean?
to tease or have fun with someone by making him or her angry or annoyedWe got a rise out of the teacher when we opened the window in the cold weather.

get a slap on the wrist
What does "get a slap on the wrist" mean?
to receive a light punishment for doing something wrongThe judge gave the boy a slap on the wrist and decided not to punish him severely for his crime.

get a toehold (somewhere)
What does "get a toehold (somewhere)" mean?
to find a starting point somewhereThe new political party is beginning to get a toehold in rural areas.

get a whiff of (something)
What does "get a whiff of (something)" mean?
to learn a little about something (almost by chance)Whenever the reporters get a whiff of a scandal they become excited and start asking questions.

get a wiggle on
What does "get a wiggle on " mean?
to hurry up, to get going"Get a wiggle on. I want to arrive at the party before the other guests."

get a word in
What does "get a word in" mean?
to find a chance to say something when others are talkingThe customer could not get a word in while talking to the salesman.

get a word in edgewise
What does "get a word in edgewise" mean?
to manage to join a conversationI could not get a word in edgewise so I left the meeting.

get across (something)
What does "get across (something)" mean?
to explain something, to make something understoodI always try to get across the importance of taking care of one's computer.

get after (someone) to do (something)
What does "get after (someone) to do (something)" mean?
to urge someone to do something that he or she should do but has neglectedI will get after the repairman to fix the computer as soon as he returns.

get ahead
What does "get ahead" mean?
to advance or be successfulThe woman works hard at her job in order to get ahead.

get ahead of (oneself)
What does "get ahead of (oneself)" mean?
to do or say something sooner than you shouldI was getting ahead of myself when I started asking questions about the job that I did not have.

get ahold of (someone or something)
What does "get ahold of (someone or something)" mean?
to make contact with someone, to obtain somethingI have been trying very hard to get ahold of my old high school teacher.

get along
What does "get along" mean?
to leaveIt`s late so I must get along now.

get along in years
What does "get along in years" mean?
to grow olderMy parents are getting along in years but they are still very healthy.

get along on (something)
What does "get along on (something)" mean?
to manage to survive or do well with somethingMy friend is able to get along on very little money.

get along on a shoestring
What does "get along on a shoestring" mean?
to manage with very little moneyI had to get along on a shoestring during university.

get along with (someone)
What does "get along with (someone)" mean?
to have a good relationship with someoneI do not get along with the woman who I work with.

get an earful
What does "get an earful" mean?
to hear much talk/criticism/complaints about somethingOur boss got an earful when he asked the employees if they had any complaints.

get around
What does "get around " mean?
to go to different places, to move aboutMy friend gets around and has been to many different cities.

get around to (do something)
What does "get around to (do something)" mean?
to finally find time to do somethingThe apartment manager finally got around to fixing our bath.

get at (someone or something)
What does "get at (someone or something)" mean?
to attack or hit someone or somethingOur dog tried to get at the other dog.

get at (something)
What does "get at (something)" mean?
to mean somethingI do not know what the man was trying to get at during the meeting.

get away
What does "get away" mean?
to succeed in leaving, to escapeI was able to get away from work early so I went shopping.

get away from it all
What does "get away from it all" mean?
to go on a holidayWe want to get away from it all this summer and relax somewhere.

get away with murder
What does "get away with murder" mean?
to do something very bad without being caught or punishedThe students were able to get away with murder while the substitute teacher was in the school.

get away with (something)
What does "get away with (something)" mean?
to do something that one should not do and not get caughtThe criminal got away with stealing the money and was never caught.

get back
What does "get back " mean?
to returnWe got back from London early yesterday afternoon.

get back at (someone)
What does "get back at (someone)" mean?
to do something bad to someone who has done something bad to youThe girl is angry at her boyfriend and she is getting back at him by not answering the telephone.

get back to (someone)
What does "get back to (someone)" mean?
to communicate something to someone at a later time, to contact someone laterWe were very careful that our complaints did not get back to the school principal.

get back to (something)
What does "get back to (something)" mean?
to return to somethingI needed a rest before I could get back to my work.

get behind
What does "get behind" mean?
to fail to maintain a desired pace or level of progress, to become lateIf you get behind with your homework you will never pass many courses.

get behind (a person or idea)
What does "get behind (a person or idea)" mean?
to support/help someone or somethingMany people decided to get behind the candidate who promised to cut taxes.

get better
What does "get better" mean?
to improve one's skill at doing something, to improve one's healthThe little boy is getting better at riding his bicycle.

get by (on something)
What does "get by (on something)" mean?
to be able to satisfy your needs with a certain amount of something (usually related to money)The man is able to get by on his salary because he does not spend much money.

get carried away
What does "get carried away" mean?
to be overcome by emotion or enthusiasm, to lose one's control or judgementI got carried away yesterday and cleaned all of my apartment.

get close to (someone)
What does "get close to (someone)" mean?
to become close friends with someoneThe woman tried very hard to get close to her youngest daughter.

get close to (something)
What does "get close to (something)" mean?
to be almost as good as something, to almost reach or arrive at a goalThe charity is getting close to the final amount of money that they expect to collect.

get cold feet
What does "get cold feet" mean?
to become afraid at the last minuteThe student got cold feet and cancelled his plans to go to China.

get cracking
What does "get cracking" mean?
to hurry up, to start moving fast, to get startedWe must get cracking on this job if we want to finish it before dinner.

get down to brass tacks
What does "get down to brass tacks" mean?
to begin discussing/doing something immediately"Let`s get down to brass tacks and finish this job quickly."

get down to business
What does "get down to business" mean?
to begin to get seriousWhen the meeting began everybody got down to business and began to discuss the important issues.

get down to (something)
What does "get down to (something)" mean?
to get started to do something"Let`s get down to work so we can go home early."

get down to the nitty-gritty
What does "get down to the nitty-gritty" mean?
to get down to the factsThe teacher called us into her office to get down to the nitty-gritty of what had happened earlier.

get dressed up
What does "get dressed up" mean?
to put on one's best clothesI usually get dressed up when I go to a nice restaurant.

get even (with someone)
What does "get even (with someone)" mean?
to get revenge on someoneMy sister wants to get even with her friend for being late for the concert.

get going
What does "get going" mean?
to begin, to act, to go"Let's get going and begin to clean the house."

get going
What does "get going" mean?
to become excited/angryWhen the man gets going he will never stop complaining.

get hold of (someone)
What does "get hold of (someone)" mean?
to find a person so that you can speak with him or herI tried to get hold of my brother last week but he was out of town.

get hold of (something)
What does "get hold of (something)" mean?
to get possession of something"If you get hold of a dictionary, could you please let me borrow it for a few minutes."

get in on (something)
What does "get in on (something)" mean?
to become involved in somethingMy friend wants to get in on the planning of the summer festival.

get in on the ground floor
What does "get in on the ground floor" mean?
to start at the beginning of something (in hopes of future gain)I am hoping to get in on the ground floor of the new company.

get in (someone's) hair
What does "get in (someone's) hair" mean?
to bother or irritate someoneThe woman complained that her young child was always getting in her hair.

get in touch with someone
What does "get in touch with someone" mean?
to contact someoneI plan to get in touch with my friend when I arrive in New York in August.

get into
What does "get into" mean?
to enter, to go into somethingI do not want any water to get into my car.

get into
What does "get into" mean?
to secure a place in a college or university or courseMy friend wants to get into a good university.

get into a stew about/over (someone or something)
What does "get into a stew about/over (someone or something)" mean?
to be worried or upset about someone or somethingMy mother is getting into a stew about my aunt not phoning.

get into hot water
What does "get into hot water" mean?
to get into trouble or difficultyWe got into hot water when they found us in the building after it had closed.

get into the act
What does "get into the act" mean?
to try to be part of whatever is happeningEverybody at the party wanted to get into the act and join the singers.

get into the swing of things
What does "get into the swing of things" mean?
to adapt to a new environment or situationMy friend got into the swing of things after the party started.

get into trouble
What does "get into trouble" mean?
to become involved in some kind of troubleThe young boys try not to get into trouble when they are left at home alone.

get involved with (someone)
What does "get involved with (someone)" mean?
to become associated with someone (often romantically)The bank teller got involved with the bank manager several months ago .

get it
What does "get it" mean?
to understand something, to understand a jokeEverybody was laughing at the joke but I did not get it.

get it all together
What does "get it all together" mean?
to be in full control of oneselfMy friend got it all together and applied for the job at the supermarket.

get it through one`s head
What does "get it through one`s head" mean?
to understand/believe somethingThe man has got it through his head that he will get a job without making any effort.

Get lost!
What does "Get lost!" mean?
Go away!The girl told her brother to get lost so she could finish doing her homework.

get mad at (someone or something)
What does "get mad at (someone or something)" mean?
to become angry with someone or somethingI often get mad at my friend when he is late.

get married
What does "get married" mean?
to marry someoneWe got married in June of last year.

get mixed up
What does "get mixed up" mean?
to become confused"I`m sorry but I got mixed up with the dates. That`s why I came today."

get nowhere fast
What does "get nowhere fast" mean?
to make no progressWe are getting nowhere fast in our effort to convince our boss to give us a holiday.

get off
What does "get off" mean?
to escape or avoid punishmentThe criminal got off with a very light sentence from the judge.

get off (a bus/train/plane etc.)
What does "get off (a bus/train/plane etc.)" mean?
to leave or exit from a bus or train etc.We decided to get off the train at the next station.

get off easy
What does "get off easy" mean?
to escape a serious punishmentThe criminals got off easy after they robbed the bank.

get off on the wrong foot (with someone or something)
What does "get off on the wrong foot (with someone or something)" mean?
to make a bad start with someone or somethingI got off on the wrong foot with my boss and our relationship is not good.

get off one`s butt
What does "get off one`s butt" mean?
to get busy, to start workingMy friend should get off his butt and try to find a job.

get off one's high horse
What does "get off one's high horse" mean?
to become less arrogantThe manager was forced to get off his high horse and act better toward the employees.

get off (someone`s) back
What does "get off (someone`s) back" mean?
to leave someone alone and not bother him or herI wish that my supervisor would get off my back.

get off the ground
What does "get off the ground" mean?
to make a successful beginningMy uncle's new business never got off the ground and he must look for a new job.

get off the hook
What does "get off the hook" mean?
to become free from an obligationI got off the hook and I did not have to clean the classroom after school.

get off to a flying start
What does "get off to a flying start" mean?
to have a successful beginningThe new restaurant got off to a flying start when many people came during the first weekend.

get on in years
What does "get on in years" mean?
to become olderMy uncle is getting on in years and is not very healthy.

get on one`s high horse
What does "get on one`s high horse" mean?
to behave with arroganceOur boss likes to get on his high horse and give orders to everyone.

get on (someone`s) nerves
What does "get on (someone`s) nerves" mean?
to irritate someoneThe woman's constant complaining is beginning to get on my nerves.

get on (someone) to do (something)
What does "get on (someone) to do (something)" mean?
to ask/pressure someone to do somethingI will get on my friend to bring your book back tomorrow.

get on the good side of (someone)
What does "get on the good side of (someone)" mean?
to get in someone's favorI took my aunt to a nice restaurant in order to get on her good side.

get one's act together
What does "get one's act together" mean?
to become more organizedMy sister finally got her act together and was able to find a new job.

get one's bearings
What does "get one's bearings" mean?
to determine where one isWhen I got my bearings I was able to easily find my way around the big department store.

get one's comeuppance
What does "get one's comeuppance" mean?
to get the punishment that one deservesThe woman got her comeuppance when she was forced to apologize to the other woman in the company.

get one`s dander up
What does "get one`s dander up" mean?
to become angryYou should not talk to the supervisor early in the morning or you may get his dander up.

get one's ducks in a row
What does "get one's ducks in a row" mean?
to put one's affairs in order, to get things readyI got my ducks in a row and was able to find a job easily.

get one`s feet wet
What does "get one`s feet wet" mean?
to begin something, to do something for the first timeThe writer got his feet wet in the publishing business and he is now ready to start his own business.

get one's fill of (someone or something)
What does "get one's fill of (someone or something)" mean?
to receive enough of someone or somethingRecently, I have got my fill of fresh corn and I do not want to eat any more.

get one's foot in the door
What does "get one's foot in the door" mean?
to begin to do something that you hope will lead to future success (often used with jobs/careers)I was able to get my foot in the door of the banking industry when I found a job at a bank.

get one's hands on (someone or something)
What does "get one's hands on (someone or something)" mean?
to get someone or something in one's grasp"When I get my hands on a hammer I will help you fix the door."

get one's head above water
What does "get one's head above water" mean?
to get in control of one's situation (often financial situation)When I get my head above water I will be able to spend less time working.

get one's just deserts
What does "get one's just deserts" mean?
to get what one deservesThe apartment manager got her just deserts when she was fired for bothering the tenants.

get one's money's worth
What does "get one's money's worth" mean?
to get value for what you have paid forWe got our money's worth when we stayed on the golf course for seven hours.

get one's nose out of (someone's) business
What does "get one's nose out of (someone's) business" mean?
to stop interfering in someone else's businessThe school secretary was told to get her nose out of the teacher's business.

get one`s own way
What does "get one`s own way" mean?
to be able to do what you wantThe boy always gets his own way with his younger brothers.

get one`s rear in gear
What does "get one`s rear in gear" mean?
to hurry up, to get going"Let`s get our rear in gear before it is too late to go to a movie."

get one's say
What does "get one's say" mean?
to be able to say what one thinksThe meeting was over very quickly but everyone got their say.

get one's sea legs
What does "get one's sea legs" mean?
to become accustomed to something (like you would become accustomed to the movement of a ship)After we got our sea legs we were able to get up and walk around the boat.

get one's start
What does "get one's start" mean?
to receive the first major opportunity of one's careerThe newspaper owner got his start by selling papers when he was a child.

get one's walking papers
What does "get one's walking papers" mean?
to get firedThe young man got his walking papers for being late too often.

get one's wires crossed
What does "get one's wires crossed" mean?
to get confused about somethingWe got our wires crossed and we both went to different places for our meeting.

get out from under (someone or something)
What does "get out from under (someone or something)" mean?
to escape from a situation that one does not likeI would like to get out from under my boss who is always watching my work.

get out of a jam
What does "get out of a jam" mean?
to get free from a problem or bad situationWe got out of a jam this morning when enough people came to help finish the job.


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