G Idioms

Idioms Index | A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

gain ground

- go forward, make progress

The toy company has been gaining ground in their effort to sell more products.

gang up on someone

- attack in a group, get together to hurt someone

The school children tried to gang up on the boy but he ran away.

gas up

- fill up a gas tank

We should gas up tonight before we leave on our holiday tomorrow.

gee whiz

- used as an exclamation to show surprise or other strong feelings

Gee whiz! Are we really going to go to go to Disneyland for our holiday?

get a break

- get an opportunity or good deal

I got a break when he sold the car for less than it was worth.

get across

- explain, make something understood

I had a hard time trying to get across to him the importance of taking care of his computer discs.

get a fix on something

- receive a reading of a distant object by electronic means

We were able to get a fix on the island and got the boat safely to the harbor.

get a grip of oneself

- take control of one's feelings

He finally got a grip of himself and calmed down.

get after someone

- urge or make someone do something he should do but has neglected

I'll get after him to fix the computer as soon as he returns.

get ahead

- advance or be successful

She really works hard at her job in order to get ahead.

get a kick out of

- enjoy

I think that my father got a kick out of seeing his old school friend.

get a load of

- take a good look at, see something

Get a load of that man over there with the four big dogs.

get along

- manage

He is able to get along on very little money.

get along

- leave

It's late so I must be getting along now.

get along with someone

- have a good relationship with someone

I don't get along very well with the new woman I work with.

get a move on

- hurry up

Please get a move on. We are already over three hours late.

get a rise out of someone

- tease, have fun with someone by making him or her angry

We really got a rise out of the teacher when we left the windows open while it was raining.

get around

- go to different places, move about

He really gets around. He has been to almost every state in the United States.

get around to

- finally find time to do something

The apartment manager finally got around to fixing the bath.

get at

- mean

I really don't know what he was trying to get at during the meeting.

get away

- succeed in leaving, escape

I was able to get away early from work today so I went shopping for awhile.

get away from it all

- go on a holiday

We want to get away from it all this summer and go and relax somewhere.

get away with murder

- do something very bad without being caught or punished

The child was able to get away with murder while the substitute teacher was at the school.

get away with something

- do something one shouldn't and not get caught at it

The criminal got away with the robbery and was never caught.

get a wiggle on

- hurry up, get going

Get a wiggle on. We have to arrive at the party before the other guests arrive.

get a word in

- find a chance to say something when others are talking

The customer couldn't get a word in while talking to the salesman so he decided to go to another company.

get a word in edgewise

- manage to break into a conversation

I couldn't get a word in edgewise so I left the meeting.

get back

- return

We got back from London early yesterday afternoon.

get back at

- do something bad to someone who has done something bad to you, hurt someone in return for something

She is very angry at her boyfriend and is getting back at him by not answering the telephone.

get behind

- go slow while doing something, be late

If you get behind in the homework you will never be able to pass the course.

get behind (a person or idea)

- support, help

They decided to get behind the main candidate when he promised to cut taxes.

get by

- satisfy your needs or demands (usually related to money)

He is able to easily get by on his salary because he doesn't spend a lot of money.

get cold feet

- become afraid at the last minute

He got cold feet and cancelled his plan to go to China.

get cracking

- hurry up, start moving fast, get started

We will have to get cracking on this work if we want to finish it before dinner.

get (someone) down

- make (someone) unhappy, cause discouragement

The long commuting time has begun to get her down so she wants to quit her job.

get down to

- get started on

Let's get down to work so we can go home early.

get down to brass tacks

- begin discussing the essential matters immediately

Let's get down to brass tacks and begin to deal with the business at hand.

get even

- get revenge

He seems to want to get even with him for their past problems.


- the beginning

Right from the get-go I never liked the way that the new manager acted.

get (someone's) goat

- annoy someone

He has been getting my goat recently and I am tired of him.

get going

- excite, stir up and make angry

Once he gets going he will never stop complaining.

get hold of (something)

- get possession of

When you get hold of a dictionary could you please let me see it for a few minutes.

get hold of (someone)

- find a person so you can speak with him or her

I tried to get hold of him last week but he was out of town.

get in on the ground floor

- start at the beginning (in hopes of future gain)

He managed to get in on the ground floor of the new company.

get in touch with someone

- contact someone

I'll get in touch with him when I arrive in New York in August.

get in the swing of things

- adapt to a new environment or situation

He got into the swing of things after the party started.

get it all together

- be in full control and possession of one's mental faculties

He finally got it all together and applied for the job at the supermarket.

get it through one's head

- understand, believe

He has got it through his head that he will get a job easily without really making an effort.

Get lost!

- go away

She told her younger brother to get lost so she could finish her homework.

get mixed up

- become confused

I'm sorry but I got mixed up with the dates. That's why I came today.

get off

- come down from or out of (a bus or train etc.)

We decided to get off the train at the station next to our regular station.

get off easy

- escape a worse punishment

The criminals got off easy even though they robbed the bank.

get off one's back

- leave someone alone and not bother them

I wish that the supervisor would get off my back.

get off one's butt

- get busy, start working

He should get off his butt and try and get a job so he will have some money.

get off on the wrong foot

- make a bad start

I got off on the wrong foot with him and our relationship never really recovered.

get off the ground

- make a successful beginning, go ahead

His new business never really got off the ground so he must look for another job.

get one's dander up

- become or make angry

You shouldn't talk to him early in the morning or you will get his dander up.

get one's feet wet

- begin, do something for the first time

He has managed to get his feet wet in the publishing business and is ready to start his own business now.

get one's own way

- cause people to do what you want

He always gets his own way with his younger brothers.

get one's rear in gear

- hurry up, get going

Let's hurry up and get our rear in gear before it is too late to go to a movie.

get on in years

- to advance in age

He is getting on in years and is not very healthy.

get on one's high horse

- behave with arrogance

He is back on his high horse and has started giving orders to everyone.

get on one's nerves

- irritate someone

His constant complaining is beginning to get on my nerves.

get out of bed on the wrong side

- be in a bad mood

I think that she got out of bed on the wrong side this morning as she hasn't said a word to anyone yet.

get out from under

- escape a situation that one doesn't like

I would like to get out from under my boss always watching my work.

get out of hand

- lose control

The going away party was beginning to get out of hand so they asked everyone to leave.

get out of the way

- be no longer an obstacle

He was unable to get out of the way of the truck and was injured.

get over something

- overcome a difficulty, recover from an illness or shock

She has been having a lot of trouble getting over her father's death.

get (something) over with

- finish, end

He wants to get his exams over with so that he can begin to relax again.

get ready

- prepare yourself

First I must get ready for work, then I will help you.

get rid of something

- give or throw something away, sell or destroy something, make a cold or fever disappear

I bought a new television set so I had to get rid of the old one.

get set

- get ready to start

We are working hard to get set for her wedding ceremony.

get the ax

- be fired

He got the ax last week and now has no job.

get the ball rolling

- start something

Let's get the ball rolling and start working.

get the better of (someone)

- win against, beat, defeat

He got the better of me and won the tennis match.

get the feel of

- become used to or learn about something

After you get the feel of the new computer it will be very easy to use.

get the goods on someone

- find out true and often bad information about someone

I think that I have finally got the goods on him and will have to talk to the police as soon as possible.

get the message

- understand clearly what is meant

I told him three times but I don't think that he really gets the message.

get the sack

- be fired or dismissed from work

I told him that if he doesn't change his work habits he will get the sack from his job.

get the show on the road

- start working on something

Let's get the show on the road and begin work for the day.

get the worst of

- be defeated or beaten, suffer most

He got the worst of the deal when the salesman sold him the used car.

get through

- succeed in passing an exam or ordeal

She has been having trouble gettting through her final exams.

get through to

- be understood by, make (someone) understand

I tried talking to her but I couldn't really get through to her.

get to

- have a chance to, be able to

I didn't get to see her last year but maybe I will have a chance this year.

get to first base

- make a good start, succeed

I tried to meet the sales manager of the company but I couldn't get to first base.

get to the bottom of

- find out the real cause

The government is trying to get to the bottom of the financial problems in the company.

get to the heart of

- understand the most important thing about something

We were in the meeting for three hours trying to get to the heart of the matter.

get under one's skin

- bother someone, upset someone

She always gets under my skin although I don't really know why I don't like her.

get up

- get out of bed, get to one's feet

I decided to get up early today so that I would be able to go fishing with my friend.


- fancy dress or costume

What was that strange getup that she was wearing the other day?


- energy, enthusiasm, drive

He has lots of get-up-and-go and it is difficult to follow him around.

get up on the wrong side of the bed

- be in a bad mood

He got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and won't talk to anyone.

get up the nerve

- become brave enough

I tried to get up the nerve to ask him about the new job.

get what's coming to one

- receive the good or bad that one deserves

He got what was coming to him when he was sent to jail for two years.

get wind of

- hear about something

I got wind of the company expansion from my friend.

get wise to something/somebody

- learn about something kept secret

He finally got wise to the fact that they were stealing his money.

get with it

- pay attention, get busy

I told him to get with it or he would get in trouble with the boss.

(not a) ghost of a chance

- very little, (not even) the smallest chance

He doesn't have a ghost of a chance to finish the book in time for his class.

gift of the gab

- be good at talking

He has a real gift of the gab and is great at parties.

give (someone) a hard time

- make trouble for someone, tease

She was giving her boyfriend a hard time about his new haircut.


- sharing, giving and receiving back and forth between people

You must be willing to give-and-take if you want to have a good marriage.


- an open secret, a sale where items are sold very cheap

His speech was a giveaway. Now I know that he is planning to retire.

give away

- give something to someone

I decided to give away my bicycle because I didn't need it anymore.

give away

- let (a secret) become known

I tried to stop her before she gave away my plans to go to Mexico for a holiday.

give a wide birth to

- keep away from, keep a safe distance from

I usually give a wide birth to my boss when he is angry.

give chase

- chase or run after someone or something

The police gave chase to the man who robbed the store.

give free rein to

- allow to move about or to do something with freedom

He was given free rein in his new job to do what he wanted.

give ground

- move back, retreat, stop opposing someone

He refused to give ground on his plans to change the system of office management.

give in

- give someone his own way, stop opposing someone

The company gave in to the union's demand for more money.

give it to

- punish, scold

He really gave it to his son when he came back late with the car.

give off

- send out, let out, put forth

The garbage was beginning to give off a bad smell because of the hot weather.

give oneself away

- show guilt, show one has done wrong

She gave herself away when she said that she hadn't seen her boyfriend but he had already said that he had met her earlier.

give oneself up

- surrender, stop hiding or running away

The robbers gave themselves up when the police surrounded the house.

give oneself up to

- let oneself enjoy, not hold oneself back from

He gave himself up to enjoy the party although he was feeling sick.

give one's right arm

- give something of great value

I would give my right arm to be able to go to Italy with the rest of the group.

give or take

- plus or minus a small amount

I think that he is about 45 years old give or take 5 years.

give out

- give to people, distribute

We gave out more than 600 free baseball caps at the shopping center.

give out

- fail

We went hiking last week but my legs gave out so we had to return early.

give out

- be finished, be gone

We went on a week-long backpacking trip but our food gave out after only three days.

give out

- let escape

She gave out a loud yell when she saw the big spider.

give pause to

- cause one to stop and think

His problems should give you pause to think a little more carefully about what you do.

give rise to

- be the cause of something

The problems with the heating system gave rise to a lot of other problems that we had to solve.

give someone a hand

- help someone with something

Please give me a hand to move this piano.

give someone an inch and they will take a mile

- if you give someone a little they will want more and more, some people are never satisfied

If you give him an inch he will take a mile so you shouldn't give him any more money.

give someone a piece of your mind

- scold or become angry with someone

When I met her yesterday I really gave her a piece of my mind.

give someone enough rope and they will hang themself

- give someone enough time and freedom to do what they want and they will make a mistake or get into trouble and be caught

Don't worry about trying to control him. If you give him enough rope he will hang himself.

give someone one's word

- make a promise or assurance

He gave me his word that he would meet me at the library.

give someone the ax

- fire an employee (usually abruptly)

He gave the new employee the ax because he was always late.

give someone the benefit of the doubt

- believe someone is innocent rather than guilty when you are not sure

I gave him the benefit of the doubt but I still think that he is a liar.

give someone the cold shoulder

- be unfriendly to someone

He gave her the cold shoulder at the party.

give someone the eye

- look or stare at someone (especially in a cold or unfriendly way)

The man in the store began to give me the eye so I left.

give someone the green light

- give permission to go ahead with a project

He has been given the green light to begin work on the new housing plan.

give someone their due

- give someone the credit that they deserve

You have to give him his due. He has successfully saved the company from bankruptcy.

give someone the slip

- escape from someone

The bank robbers were able to give the police the slip at first but they were soon caught.

give the devil his due

- be fair (even to someone who is bad and who you dislike)

I don't like to work with him at all as I think he is lazy. Still you have to give the devil his due because he always gets the job done.

give it your best shot

- try very hard

Although he didn't have enough experience he decided to apply for the job and give it his best shot.

give to understand

- make a person understand by telling him very plainly or boldly

I was given to understand that I could rent an apartment very easily here.

give up

- abandon, stop

He has decided to give up his plan to work in Hong Kong for a year.

give up the ghost

- stop working, die

My old car finally gave up the ghost so I must buy another one.

(don't) give up the ship

- (don't) stop fighting and surrender, (don't) stop trying or hoping to do something

Please don't give up the ship and quit this company. I am sure you still have a useful role to play.

give voice to

- tell what one feels or thinks

He has begun to give voice to his feelings about the new office building.

give way

- collapse, fail

The dam gave way and the water flooded the farmland below.

glad hand

- a friendly handshake, a warm greeting

The politician spent the morning glad handing the people at the shopping center.

gloss over

- try to make what is wrong or bad seem right or not important, hide

The accountant tried to gloss over the money that they lost last year.

go about

- be busy with, start working on

He has been going about his business all morning although he is feeling sick.

go after

- try to get

The police decided to go after the people who were speeding near the school.

go ahead

- begin to do something, not wait

Let's go ahead and start now. We can't wait for him any longer.

go along

- move along, continue

He invented the story as he went along.

go along

- agree, co-operate

They went along with his idea about having a party on the weekend.

go ape

- become very excited or behave in a crazy way

He went ape when he heard about the money that I had spent.

go around

- go from one place or person to another

We decided to go around from one shop to another until we found a good present.

go around in circles

- without getting anywhere, uselessly

He has been going around in circles for weeks now and still hasn't made any progress with his essay.

go at

- fight with, attack, argue

When I entered the room they were going at it loudly.

go at it hammer and tongs

- fight with great strength or energy, have a bad argument

They were going at it hammer and tongs when the police came to their house.

go back on

- turn against, not be faithful to

He promised not to go back on his word about the discount tickets.

go broke

- lose all of one's money

His company went broke so he quickly lost his job.

go Dutch

- two people each pay for themselves

We always go Dutch when we go on a date.

go for

- try to get, try for

I have decided to go for the new job at the computer center.

go for broke

- risk everything on one big effort, try as hard as possible

They are going for broke trying to win the new contract.

go from bad to worse

- get worse, deteriorate

Things are going from bad to worse in the company.


- a person who works hard to become successful, an ambitious person

He is a go-getter. He always works hard and has lots of money because of that.

go great guns

- do something very fast or very hard, successfully

The workers were going great guns fixing the building when I saw them this morning.

go halves

- share equally

We have decided to go halves on buying a new computer.

go haywire

- become damaged, stop working properly

At first everything was going well but later all the plans began to go haywire.

go in for

- decide to do (something), take part in

He is going to university and has decided to go in for medicine.

going for (someone)

- in one's favor

She should do very well as she has many good things going for her.

go into orbit

- lose one's temper, become very angry

He went into orbit when he heard about the missing money.

go jump in a lake

- go away and quit bothering someone

She asked me to borrow some money but I told her to go jump in a lake because she never paid me back before.

golden opportunity

- excellent and rare opportunity

The heat wave was a golden opportunity for the ice cream seller to make money.

good deal

- good quality and a cheap price

You can usually get a good deal on stereos at that discount store.

Good grief!

- used to show surprise (good or bad)

Good grief! It's 6:00 and I have not finished this job yet.

good riddance

- used when you lose something and you are happy about it

Good riddance he said when the computer broke down and he had to buy another one.

good riddance to bad rubbish

- used to show you are glad that someone or something has been taken or sent away

Good riddance to bad rubbish! I never liked him and I am glad that he has finally left.

good sport

- person who loses well

He is a very good sport and never complains about losing.

go off

- leave, depart

He went off on a trip and he never even bothered to phone and say good-bye.

go off

- explode, be ignited

The firecracker went off in his hand before he had a chance to put it down.

go off

- begin to ring or buzz

The fire alarm started to go off just as we entered the building.

go off half-cocked

- act or speak before being ready

He always goes off half-cocked when he is at a meeting.

go off the deep end

- give way to emotion

He went off the deep end when he saw the picture in the paper.

goof off

- fool around, not work or be serious

He has been goofing off all afternoon and has not got any work done.

go on

- continue

The game went on for about an hour after I left.

go on

- talk for too long

He started to go on about his problems so I finally left.

go on

- put on, fit on

The top of the jar wouldn't go on so I threw it away.

go (someone) one better

- do something better than someone else, do more or be better than someone

I decided to go him one better and buy a bigger present for my girlfriend.

go one's own way

- go or act the way one wants

He has decided to go his own way and will start his own business next year.

go out of one's way

- make an extra effort

She went out of her way to help me when I visited her in October.

go out the window

- be abandoned, go out of effect

The school dress code went out the window when the new principal took over.

go out with (someone)

- date or be dating someone

She went out with him for two years before they got married.

go over

- examine

The accountant will come to go over the books tomorrow.

go over well

- be liked, be successful

I am sure that the party will go over well. You have done a lot of preparation for it.

go overboard

- do something in excess

He really went overboard with the birthday party.

go steady

- go on dates with the same person all the time, date just one person

My sister has been going steady with the same person for two years.

go straight

- become an honest person, lead an honest life

He was in prison for awhile but has recently decided to go straight.

got a thing going

- be engaged in a pleasureable activity with someone else as a partner (in romance or business)

He has a thing going with computer repairs and is making a lot of extra money.

go the whole hog

- make a thorough job of something

They really went the whole hog in their efforts to welcome the foreign visitors.

go through

- examine or think about carefully, search

The police went through his house to look for a gun.

go through

- experience, suffer, live through

He has been through many hard times since he lost his job.

go through

- be allowed, pass, be agreed upon

The law finally went through Congress last week.

go through changes

- be involved in changing circumstances

She has been going through many changes since her divorce.

go through with

- finish, do as planned or agreed

He has decided to go through with his plans to go back to school.

go to one's head

- become conceited

He new position has really gone to his head and he won't speak to us any longer.

go to pieces

- lose your self-control

She went to pieces when she received the letter about her father's death.

go to pot

- deteriorate

The business has really gone to pot since he became president.

go to rack and ruin

- reach a very bad state of repair

The building has gone to rack and ruin since the new owners took over.

go to town

- work fast or hard, do something with much energy

They really went to town last night and finished painting the bedroom.

go up in smoke/flames

- burn or be destroyed by fire, fail, not come true (dreams)

His plans to open a new restaurant have gone up in smoke since he lost his job.

go without saying

- be so easy to see that it doesn't have to be mentioned

He is a hard worker so it goes without saying that his boss is very happy with him.

grasp at straws

- try something with little hope of succeeding, depend on something that is useless in a time of trouble

He is grasping at straws. He will never find enough money to pay next month's rent.

grass is always greener on the other side

- a place or thing that is far away or different seems better than what we have or where we are

She is always moving or changing jobs as she thinks that the grass is always greener on the other side.

gravy train

- job that gives one a lot of money compared with what you do

The cleaning contract was really a gravy train. We only worked for 3 hours but we got paid for 8 hours.

grease one's palm

- give money or pay for some special favor

We had to grease the border guard's palm in order to enter the country.

greasy spoon

- a small, cheap eating place with basic but not-so-good food

We had to go to a greasy spoon for breakfast as all the other restaurants were closed.


- be inexperienced or immature

He is a little green and doesn't know the job very well.

green thumb

- skill in making plants grow

He has a real green thumb and has a beautiful garden.

green with envy

- very jealous, full of envy

The little girl was green with envy when she saw her friend's new bicycle.

grind to a halt

- slow down and stop (like a machine when it is turned off)

The city ground to a halt when the power went off for five hours.

ground floor

- the first or best chance - especially in a business

The video store was a good investment so I was happy to get in on the ground floor.

gum up

- cause not to work, ruin something, make something go wrong

The computer printer seemed to have become gummed up just as I was about to print my resume.

gun for someone

- look hard for a chance to harm or defeat someone

My supervisor has been gunning for me for a long time but I don't really know why.

gun for something

- try very hard to get (prize or promotion etc.)

He has been gunning for the new sales job for a long time.


- enthusiastic, full of eagerness

She is really gung-ho about her new job at the library.