get at

verb (used with object), got or (Archaic) gat; got or got·ten; get·ting.

  1. to receive or come to have possession, use, or enjoyment of: to get a birthday present; to get a pension.
  2. to cause to be in one’s possession or succeed in having available for one’s use or enjoyment; obtain; acquire: to get a good price after bargaining; to get oil by drilling; to get information.
  3. to go after, take hold of, and bring (something) for one’s own or for another’s purposes; fetch: Would you get the milk from the refrigerator for me?
  4. to cause or cause to become, to do, to move, etc., as specified; effect: to get one’s hair cut; to get a person drunk; to get a fire to burn; to get a dog out of a room.
  5. to communicate or establish communication with over a distance; reach: You can always get me by telephone.
  6. to hear or hear clearly: I didn’t get your last name.
  7. to acquire a mental grasp or command of; learn: to get a lesson.
  8. to capture; seize: Get him before he escapes!
  9. to receive as a punishment or sentence: to get a spanking; to get 20 years in jail.
  10. to prevail on; influence or persuade: We’ll get him to go with us.
  11. to prepare; make ready: to get dinner.
  12. (especially of animals) to beget.
  13. Informal. to affect emotionally: Her pleas got me.
  14. to hit, strike, or wound: The bullet got him in the leg.
  15. Informal. to kill.
  16. Informal. to take vengeance on: I’ll get you yet!
  17. to catch or be afflicted with; come down with or suffer from: He got malaria while living in the tropics. She gets butterflies before every performance.
  18. Informal. to puzzle; irritate; annoy: Their silly remarks get me.
  19. Informal. to understand; comprehend: I don’t get the joke. This report may be crystal-clear to a scientist, but I don’t get it.

verb (used without object), got or (Archaic) gat; got or got·ten; get·ting.

  1. to come to a specified place; arrive; reach: to get home late.
  2. to succeed, become enabled, or be permitted: You get to meet a lot of interesting people.
  3. to become or to cause oneself to become as specified; reach a certain condition: to get angry; to get sick.
  4. (used as an auxiliary verb followed by a past participle to form the passive): to get married; to get elected; to get hit by a car.
  5. to succeed in coming, going, arriving at, visiting, etc. (usually followed by away, in, into, out, etc.): I don’t get into town very often.
  6. to bear, endure, or survive (usually followed by through or over): Can he get through another bad winter?
  7. to earn money; gain.
  8. Informal. to leave promptly; scram: He told us to get.
  9. to start or enter upon the action of (followed by a present participle expressing action): to get moving; Get rolling.


  1. an offspring or the total of the offspring, especially of a male animal: the get of a stallion.
  2. a return of a ball, as in tennis, that would normally have resulted in a point for the opponent.
  3. British Slang.
    1. something earned, as salary, profits, etc.: What’s your week’s get?
    2. a child born out of wedlock.

Verb Phrases

  1. get about,
    1. to move about; be active: He gets about with difficulty since his illness.
    2. to become known; spread: It was supposed to be a secret, but somehow it got about.
    3. to be socially active: She’s been getting about much more since her family moved to the city.

    Also get around.

  2. get across,
    1. to make or become understandable; communicate: to get a lesson across to students.
    2. to be convincing about; impress upon others: The fire chief got across forcefully the fact that turning in a false alarm is a serious offense.
  3. get ahead, to be successful, as in business or society: She got ahead by sheer determination.
  4. get ahead of,
    1. to move forward of, as in traveling: The taxi got ahead of her after the light changed.
    2. to surpass; outdo: He refused to let anyone get ahead of him in business.
  5. get along,
    1. to go away; leave.
    2. get on.
  6. get around,
    1. to circumvent; outwit.
    2. to ingratiate oneself with (someone) through flattery or cajolery.
    3. to travel from place to place; circulate: I don’t get around much anymore.
    4. get about.
  7. get at,
    1. to reach; touch: to stretch in order to get at a top shelf.
    2. to suggest, hint at, or imply; intimate: What are you getting at?
    3. to discover; determine: to get at the root of a problem.
    4. influence by surreptitious or illegal means; bribe: The gangsters couldn’t get at the mayor.
  8. get away,
    1. to escape; flee: He tried to get away, but the crowd was too dense.
    2. to start out; leave: The racehorses got away from the starting gate.
  9. get away with, to perpetrate or accomplish without detection or punishment: Some people lie and cheat and always seem to get away with it.
  10. get by,
    1. to succeed in going past: to get by a police barricade.
    2. to manage to exist, survive, continue in business, etc., in spite of difficulties.
    3. to evade the notice of: He doesn’t let much get by him.
  11. get down,
    1. to bring or come down; descend: The kitten climbed the tree, but then couldn’t get down again.
    2. to concentrate; attend: to get down to the matter at hand.
    3. to depress; discourage; fatigue: Nothing gets me down so much as a rainy day.
    4. to swallow: The pill was so large that he couldn’t get it down.
    5. to relax and enjoy oneself completely; be uninhibited in one’s enjoyment: getting down with a bunch of old friends.
  12. get in,
    1. to go into a place; enter: He forgot his key and couldn’t get in.
    2. to arrive; come: They both got in on the same train.
    3. to become associated with: He got in with a bad crowd.
    4. to be chosen or accepted, as for office, membership, etc.: As secretary of the club, his friend made sure that he got in.
    5. to become implicated in: By embezzling money to pay his gambling debts quickly, he was getting in further and further.
  13. get off,
    1. to escape the consequences of or punishment for one’s actions.
    2. to help (someone) escape punishment: A good lawyer might get you off.
    3. to begin a journey; leave: He got off on the noon flight.
    4. to leave (a train, plane, etc.); dismount from (a horse); alight.
    5. to tell (a joke); express (an opinion): The comedian got off a couple of good ones.
    6. have the effrontery: Where does he get off telling me how to behave?
    7. Slang: experience orgasm.
    8. to experience or cause to experience a high from or as if from a drug.
    9. to cause to feel pleasure, enthusiasm, or excitement: a new rock group that gets everyone off.
  14. get on/along,
    1. to make progress; proceed; advance.
    2. to have sufficient means to manage, survive, or fare.
    3. to be on good terms; agree: She simply can’t get on with her brothers.
    4. to advance in age: He is getting on in years.
  15. get out,
    1. to leave (often followed by of): Get out of here! We had to get out of the bus at San Antonio.
    2. to become publicly known: We mustn’t let this story get out.
    3. to withdraw or retire (often followed by of): He decided to get out of the dry goods business.
    4. to produce or complete: Let’s get this work out!
  16. get over,
    1. to recover from: to get over an illness.
    2. get across.
  17. get through,
    1. to succeed, as in meeting, reaching, or contacting by telephone (usually followed by to): I tried to call you last night, but I couldn’t get through.
    2. to complete; finish: How he ever got through college is a mystery.
    3. to make oneself understood: One simply cannot get through to her.
  18. get to,
    1. to get in touch or into communication with; contact: It was too late by the time he got to the authorities.
    2. make an impression on; affect: This music really gets to you.
    3. to begin: When he gets to telling stories about the war, there’s no stopping him.
  1. get back,
    1. to come back; return: When will you get back?
    2. to recover; regain: He got back his investment with interest.
    3. to be revenged: She waited for a chance to get back at her accuser.
  2. get even. even1(def 26).
  3. get going,
    1. to begin; act: They wanted to get going on the construction of the house.
    2. to increase one’s speed; make haste: If we don’t get going, we’ll never arrive in time.
  4. get it, Informal.
    1. to be punished or reprimanded: You’ll get it for breaking that vase!
    2. to understand or grasp something: This is just between us, get it?
  5. get it off, Slang: Vulgar. to experience orgasm.
  6. get it on,
    1. work or perform with satisfying harmony or energy or develop a strong rapport, as in music: a rock group really getting it on with the audience.
    2. Slang: have sexual intercourse.
  7. get it up, Slang: Vulgar. to achieve an erection of the penis.
  8. get off on, Slang. to become enthusiastic about or excited by: After years of indifference, she’s getting off on baseball.
  9. get round. get around.
  10. get the lead out. lead2(def 15).
  11. get there, to reach one’s goal; succeed: He wanted to be a millionaire but he died before he got there.
  12. get together,
    1. to accumulate; gather: to get together a portfolio of 20 stocks.
    2. to congregate; meet: The alumnae chapter gets together twice a year.
    3. to come to an accord; agree: They simply couldn’t get together on matters of policy.
  13. get up,
    1. to sit up or stand; arise.
    2. to rise from bed.
    3. to ascend or mount.
    4. to prepare; arrange; organize: to get up an exhibit.
    5. to draw upon; marshal; rouse: to get up one’s courage.
    6. to acquire a knowledge of.
    7. (to a horse) go! go ahead! go faster!
    8. to dress, as in a costume or disguise: She got herself up as an astronaut.
    9. to produce in a specified style, as a book: It was got up in brown leather with gold endpapers.
  14. has/have got,
    1. to possess or own; have: She’s got a new car. Have you got the tickets?
    2. must (followed by an infinitive): He’s got to get to a doctor right away.
    3. to suffer from: Have you got a cold?

verb (intr, preposition)

  1. to gain access tothe dog could not get at the meat on the high shelf
  2. to mean or intendwhat are you getting at when you look at me like that?
  3. to irritate or annoy persistently; criticizeshe is always getting at him
  4. to influence or seek to influence, esp illegally by bribery, intimidation, etcsomeone had got at the witness before the trial

abbreviation for

  1. Greenwich Electronic Time

verb gets, getting, got (ɡɒt) or got or esp US gotten (mainly tr)

  1. to come into possession of; receive or earn
  2. to bring or fetch
  3. to contract or be affected byhe got a chill at the picnic
  4. to capture or seizethe police finally got him
  5. (also intr) to become or cause to become or act as specifiedto get a window open; get one’s hair cut; get wet
  6. (intr; foll by a preposition or adverbial particle) to succeed in going, coming, leaving, etcget off the bus
  7. (takes an infinitive) to manage or contrivehow did you get to be captain?
  8. to make ready or prepareto get a meal
  9. to hear, notice, or understandI didn’t get your meaning
  10. US and Canadian informal to learn or master by study
  11. (intr often foll by to) to come (to) or arrive (at)we got home safely; to get to London
  12. to catch or enterto get a train
  13. to induce or persuadeget him to leave at once
  14. to reach by calculationadd 2 and 2 and you will get 4
  15. to receive (a broadcast signal)
  16. to communicate with (a person or place), as by telephone
  17. (also intr foll by to) informal to have an emotional effect (on)that music really gets me
  18. informal to annoy or irritateher high voice gets me
  19. informal to bring a person into a difficult position from which he or she cannot escape
  20. informal to puzzle; baffle
  21. informal to hitthe blow got him in the back
  22. informal to be revenged on, esp by killing
  23. US slang
    1. (foll by to)to gain access (to a person) with the purpose of bribing him
    2. (often foll by to)to obtain access (to someone) and kill or silence him
  24. informal to have the better ofyour extravagant habits will get you in the end
  25. (intr; foll by present participle) informal to beginget moving
  26. (used as a command) informal go! leave now!
  27. archaic to beget or conceive
  28. get even with See even 1 (def. 15)
  29. get it or get it in the neck informal to be reprimanded or punished severely
  30. get with it slang to allow oneself to respond to new ideas, styles, etc
  31. get with child archaic to make pregnant


  1. rare the act of begetting
  2. rare something begotten; offspring
  3. British slang a variant of git
  4. informal (in tennis, squash, etc) a successful return of a shot that was difficult to reach

early 14c., “offspring,” from get (v.). Meaning “what is got, booty” is from 14c.


c.1200, from Old Norse geta “to obtain, reach; to beget; to guess right” (past tense gatum, past participle getenn), from Proto-Germanic *getan (cf. Old Swedish gissa “to guess,” literally “to try to get”), from PIE root *ghend- “seize, take” (cf. Greek khandanein “to hold, contain,” Lithuanian godetis “be eager,” second element in Latin prehendere “to grasp, seize,” Welsh gannu “to hold, contain,” Old Church Slavonic gadati “to guess, suppose”). Meaning “to seize mentally, grasp” is from 1892.

Old English, as well as Dutch and Frisian, had the root only in compounds (e.g. begietan “to beget,” see beget; forgietan “to forget,” see forget). Vestiges of Old English cognate *gietan remain obliquely in past participle gotten and original past tense gat. The word and phrases built on it take up 29 columns in the OED 2nd edition. Related: Getting.

Get wind of “become acquainted with” is from 1840, from earlier to get wind “to get out, become known” (1722). Get out, as a command to go away, is from 1711. Get-rich-quick (adj.) attested from 1904, first in O. Henry. To get out of hand originally (1765) meant “to advance beyond the need for guidance;” sense of “to break free, run wild” is from 1892, from horses. To get on (someone’s) nerves is attested by 1970.


Touch, reach successfully, as in Mom hid the peanut butter so we couldn’t get at it. [Late 1700s]


Try to make understandable; hint at or suggest. For example, I think I see what you’re getting at. [Late 1800s]


Discover, learn, ascertain, as in We must get at the facts of the case. [Late 1700s]


Bribe or influence by improper or illegal means, as in He got at the judge, and the charges were dismissed. [Colloquial; mid-1800s]


Start on, begin work on, attend to, as in “Get at your canvassing early, and drive it with all your might” (Mark Twain, letter to his publishers, 1884). [Colloquial; late 1800s]

In addition to the idioms beginning with get

  • get a bang out of
  • get about
  • get a break
  • get a charge
  • get across
  • get a dirty look
  • get a fix
  • get a fix on
  • get a free hand
  • get after
  • get a grip on
  • get a hand
  • get a handle on
  • get ahead
  • get a head start
  • get a kick out of
  • get a life
  • get a line on
  • get a load of
  • get along
  • get a move on
  • get an in with
  • get another guess
  • get a rise out of
  • get around
  • get at
  • get a thing about
  • get away
  • get away with
  • get a word in edgewise
  • get back
  • get back at
  • get back to
  • get behind
  • get better
  • get busy
  • get by
  • get cracking
  • get credit for
  • get down
  • get down to brass tacks
  • get going
  • get goose pimples
  • get gray hair from
  • get hold of
  • get in
  • get in a snit
  • get in a stew
  • get in bad with
  • get in on
  • get in one’s hair
  • get in someone’s face
  • get in the way
  • get into
  • get into bed with
  • get into hot water
  • get into one’s head
  • get into the act
  • get into the swing of things
  • get into trouble
  • get in touch
  • get involved
  • get in with
  • get it
  • get it on
  • get lost
  • get mileage out of
  • get nowhere
  • get off
  • get off on
  • get off one’s chest
  • get off one’s tail
  • get off on the wrong foot
  • get off scot-free
  • get off someone’s back
  • get off the dime
  • get off the ground
  • get off the hook
  • get on
  • get one down
  • get one’s
  • get one’s
  • get one’s act together
  • get one’s bearings
  • get one’s comeuppance
  • get one’s ducks in a row
  • get one’s feet on the ground
  • get one’s feet wet
  • get one’s fill
  • get one’s hands dirty
  • get one’s hands on
  • get one’s head examined
  • get one’s money’s worth
  • get one’s own back
  • get one’s teeth into
  • get one’s walking papers
  • get one’s way
  • get one’s wires crossed
  • get on someone’s good side
  • get on someone’s nerves
  • get on the bandwagon
  • get on the stick
  • get on with it
  • get out
  • get out from under
  • get out of
  • get out of one’s face
  • get out of one’s system
  • get out of someone’s sight
  • get out of the way
  • get out while the getting is good
  • get over
  • get physical
  • get ready
  • get real
  • get religion
  • get rid of
  • get right
  • get rolling
  • get round
  • get set
  • get sick
  • get someone’s back up
  • get someone’s goat
  • get someone’s number
  • get someone wrong
  • get something into one’s head
  • get something on someone
  • get somewhere
  • get straight
  • get stuffed
  • get the advantage of
  • get the air
  • get the ax
  • get the ball rolling
  • get the better of
  • get the business
  • get the can
  • get the drift
  • get the drop on
  • get the feel of
  • get the goods on
  • get the hang of
  • get theirs
  • get the jump on
  • get the lead out
  • get the message
  • get the most out of
  • get the nod
  • get the picture
  • get there
  • get the runaround
  • get the sack
  • get the show on the road
  • get the upper hand
  • get the worst of it
  • get through
  • get through one’s head
  • get through to
  • get to
  • get to first base
  • get together
  • get to one’s feet
  • get to the bottom of
  • get to the heart of
  • get to the point
  • get tough with
  • get under someone’s skin
  • get up
  • get up one’s nerve
  • get up on the wrong side of bed
  • get up steam
  • get used to
  • get well
  • get what’s coming to one
  • get wind of
  • get wise to
  • get with it

also see:

  • be (get) busted
  • come and get it
  • dip (get) one’s toes into
  • early bird catches (gets) the worm
  • give as good as one gets
  • ground floor, get in on the
  • it takes getting used to
  • lay (get) one’s hands on
  • marching orders, get one’s
  • play hard to get
  • squeaky wheel gets the grease
  • tell someone where to get off
  • when the going gets tough
  • you get what you pay for

Also see underbecomegivehave.

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