~ G ~

Game on

When someone says ‘Game on!’, it means that they are accepting a challenge or ready to get something done.

Game plan

A game plan is a strategy.

Garbage fee

A garbage fee is a charge that has no value and doesn’t provide any real service.

Garbage in, garbage out

If a computer system or database is built badly, then the results will be bad.

Gardening leave

(UK) If someone is paid for a period when they are not working, either after they have given in their notice or when they are being investigated, they are on gardening leave.

Gather pace

If events gather pace, they move faster.

Gather steam

If something gathers speed, it moves or progresses at an increasing speed.

Get a grip

If you get a grip, you control your emotions so that they don’t overwhelm you.

Get a handle on

When you get a handle on something, you come to understand it.

Get a sheepskin

Getting a sheepskin (or your sheepskin) means getting a degree or diploma.  (Sheepskin refers to the parchment that a degree is printed on-  parchment comes from sheepskin.)

Get along famously

If people get along famously, they have an exceedingly good relationship.

Get away scot-free

If someone gets away scot-free, they are not punished when they have done something wrong. (‘Get off scot-free’ is an alternative.)

Get away with murder

If you get away with murder, you do something bad and don’t get caught or punished.(‘Get away with blue murder’ is also used.)

Get back on the horse that bucked you

When you start drinking again after being hungover from drinking the previous night.

Get in on the act

If people want to get in on the act, they want to participate in something that is currently profitable or popular.

Get in on the ground floor

If you get in on the ground floor, you enter a project or venture at the start before people know how successful it might be.

Get it in the neck

(UK) If you get it in the neck, you are punished or criticised for something.

Get it off your chest

If you get something off your chest, you confess to something that has been troubling you.

Get my drift

If you get someone’s drift, you understand what they are trying to say. (‘Catch their drift’ is an alternative form.)

Get off the ground

If a project or plan gets off the ground, it starts to be put into operation.

Get on like a house on fire

If people get on like a house on fire, they have a very close and good relationship.

Get on your nerves

If something gets on your nerves, it annoys or irritates you.

Get on your soapbox

If someone on their soapbox, they hold forth (talk a lot) about a subject they feel strongly about.

Get out of bed on the wrong side

If you get out of bed on the wrong side, you wake up and start the day in a bad mood for no real reason.

Get out of your pram

(UK) If someone gets out of their pram, they respond aggressively to an argument or problem that doesn’t involve them.

Get the axe

If you get the axe, you lose your job.  (‘Get the ax’ is the American spelling.)

Get the ball rolling

If you get the ball rolling, you start something so that it can start making progress.

Get the green light

If you get the green light to do something, you are given the necessary permission, authorisation.

Get the monkey off your back

If you get the monkey off your back, you pass on a problem to someone else.

Get the nod

(UK) If you get the nod to something, you get approval or permission to do it.

Get the picture

If you get the picture, you understand a situation fully.

Get the show on the road

If you get the show on the road, you put a plan into operation or begin something.

Get to grips

If you get to grips with something, you take control and do it properly.

Get up and go

If someone has lots of get up and go, they have lots of enthusiasm and energy.

Get wind of

If you get wind of something, you hear or learn about it, especially if it was meant to be secret.

Get your ducks in a row

If you get your ducks in a row, you organise yourself and your life.

Get your feathers in a bunch

If you get your feathers in a bunch, you get upset or angry about something.

Get your feet wet

If you get your feet wet, you gain your first experience of something.

Get your goat

If something gets your goat, it annoys you.

Get your hands dirty

If you get your hands dirty, you become involved in something where the realities might compromise your principles. It can also mean that a person is not just stuck in an ivory tower dictating strategy, but is prepared to put in the effort and hard work to make the details actually happen.

Get your head around something

If you get your head around something, you come to understand it even though it is difficult to comprehend.

Get your teeth into

If you get your teeth into something, you become involved in or do something that is intellectually challenging or satisfying.  (‘Dig you teeth into’ and ‘sink your teeth into’ are also used.)

Get your wires crossed

If people get their wires cross, they misunderstand each other, especially when making arrangements.  (‘Get your lines crossed’ is also used.)

Ghost of a chance

If something or someone hasn’t got a ghost of a chance, they have no hope whatsoever of succeeding.

Ghostly presence

You can feel or otherwise sense a ghostly presence, but you cannot do it clearly only vaguely.

Gift of the gab

If someone has the gift of the gab, they speak in a persuasive and interesting way.

Gild the lily

If you gild the lily, you decorate something that is already ornate.

Gilded cage

If someone is in a gilded cage, they are trapped and have restricted or no freedom, but have very comfortable surroundings- many famous people live in luxury but cannot walk out of their house alone.

Girl Friday

A girl Friday is a female employee who assists someone without any specific duties.

Give a big hand

Applaud by clapping hands. ‘Let’s give all the contestents a big hand.’

Give a dog a bad name

A person who is generally known to have been guilty of some offence will always be suspected to be the author of all similar types of offence. Once someone has gained a bad reputation, it is very difficult to lose it.

Give and take

Where there is give and take, people make concessions in order to get things they want in negotiations.

Give as good as you get

If you give as good as you get, you are prepared to treat people as badly as they treat you and to fight for what you believe.

Give away the store

(USA) If someone gives away the store, they say or do something that makes their position in negotiations, debates, etc, much weaker.

Give it some stick

(UK) If you give something some stick, you put a lot of effort into it.

Give me a hand

If someone gives you a hand, they help you.

Give me five

If someone says this, they want to hit your open hand against theirs as a way of congratulation or greeting.

Give someone a leg up

If you give someone a leg up, you help them to achieve something that they couldn’t have done alone.

Give someone a piece of your mind

If you give someone a piece of your mind, you criticise them strongly and angrily.

Give someone a run for their money

If you can give someone a run for the money, you are as good, or nearly as good, as they are at something.

Give someone enough rope

If you give someone enough rope, you give them the chance to get themselves into trouble or expose themselves. (The full form is ‘give someone enough rope and they’ll hang themselves)

Give someone stick

(UK) If someone gives you stick, they criticise you or punish you.

Give someone the runaround

If someone gives you the runaround, they make excuses and give you false explanations to avoid doing something.

Give the nod

(UK) If you give the nod to something, you approve it or give permission to do it.

Give up the ghost

People give up the ghost when they die.  Machines stop working when they give up the ghost.

Give your eye teeth

If you really want something and would be prepared to sacrifice a lot to get it, you would give your eye teeth for it.

Given the day that’s in it

(Irish) This idiom is used when something is obvious because of the day that it occurs: traffic, for example would be busy around a football stadium on game day, given the day that’s in it. On any other day the traffic would be unexplainable, but because its game day its obvious why there is traffic.

Glass ceiling

The glass ceiling is the discrimination that prevents women and minorities from getting promoted to the highest levels of companies and organisations.

Glory hound

A glory hound is a person seeking popularity, fame and glory.

Gloves are off

When the gloves are off, people start to argue or fight in a more serious way. (‘The gloves come off’ and ‘take the gloves off’ are also used. It comes from boxing, where fighters normally wear gloves so that they don’t do too much damage to each other.)

Glutton for punishment

If a person is described as a glutton for punishment, the happily accept jobs and tasks that most people would try to get out of. A glutton is a person who eats a lot.

Gnaw your vitals

If something gnaws your vitals, it troubles you greatly and affects you at a very deep level. (‘Gnaw at your vitals’ is also used.)

Go against the grain

A person who does things in an unconventional manner, especially if their methods are not generally approved of, is said to go against the grain. Such an individual can be called a maverick.

Go awry

If things go awry, they go wrong.

Go bananas

If you go bananas, you are wild with excitement, anxiety, or worry.

Go blue

If you go blue, you are very cold indeed. (‘Turn blue’ is an alternative form.)

Go bust

If a company goes bust, it goes bankrupt.

Go by the board

When something has gone by the board, it no longer exists or an opportunity has been lost.

Go by the boards

If something goes by the boards, it fails to get approved or accepted.

Go down like a cup of cold sick

(UK) An idea or excuse that will not be well accepted will go down like a cup of cold sick.

Go down like a lead balloon

(UK) If something goes down like a lead balloon, it fails or is extremely badly received.

Go down swinging

If you want to go down swinging, you know you will probably fail, but you refuse to give up.

Go down without a fight

If someone goes down without a fight, they surrender without putting up any resistance.

Go Dutch

If you go Dutch in a restaurant, you pay equal shares for the meal.

Go fly a kite

(USA) This is used to tell someone to go away and leave you alone.

Go for broke

If someone goes for broke, they risk everything they have for a potentially greater gain.

Go for the jugular

If you go for the jugular, you attack someone where they are most vulnerable.

Go fry an egg

(USA) This is used to tell someone to go away and leave you alone.

Go hand in hand

If things go hand in hand, they are associated and go together.

Go nuts

If someone goes nuts, they get excited over something.

Go off on a tangent

If someone goes off on a tangent, they change the subject completely in the middle of a conversation or talk.

Go over like a lead balloon

(USA) If something goes over like a lead balloon, it will not work well, or go over well.

Go overboard

If you go overboard, you do something excessively.

Go pear-shaped

If things have gone wrong, they have gone pear-shaped.

Go play in traffic

This is used as a way of telling someone to go away.

Go round in circles

If people are going round in circles, they keep discussing the same thing without reaching any agreement or coming to a conclusion.

Go south

If things go south, they get worse or go wrong.

Go spare

(UK) If you go spare, you lose your temper completely.

Go tell it to birds

This is used when someone says something that is not credible or is a lie.

Go the distance

If you go the distance, you continue until something ends, no matter how difficult.

Go the extra mile

If someone is prepared to go the extra mile, they will do everything they can to help or to make something succeed, going beyond their duty what could be expected of them .

Go the whole hog

If you go the whole hog, you do something completely or to its limits.

Go through the motions

When you go through the motions, you do something like an everyday routine and without any feelings whatsoever.

Go to seed

If someone has gone to seed, they have declined in quality or appearance.

Go to the wire

If someone goes to the wire, they risk their life, job, reputation, etc, to help someone.

Go to your head

If something goes to your head, it makes you feel vain.  If alcohol goes to your head, it makes you feel drunk quickly.

Go under the hammer

If something goes under the hammer, it is sold in an auction.

Go west

If something goes west, it goes wrong. If someone goes west, they die.

Go with the flow

If you go with the flow, you accept things as they happen and do what everyone else wants to do.

Go-to guy

A go-to guy is a person whose knowledge of something is considerable so everyone wants to go to him or her for information or results.

Going concern

A successful and active business is a going concern.

Going Jesse

(USA) If something is a going Jesse, it’s a viable, successful project or enterprise.

Going overboard

If you go overboard with something, then you take something too far, or do too much.

Golden handshake

A golden handshake is a payment made to someone to get them to leave their job.

Golden rule

The golden rule is the most essential or fundamental rule associated with something. Originally, it was not a general reference to an all purpose first rule applicable to many groups or protocols, but referred to a verse in the Bible about treating people they way you would want them to treat you, which was considered the First Rule of behavior towards all by all.

Golden touch

Someone with a golden touch can make money from or be successful at anything they do.

Gone fishing

If someone has gone fishing, they are not very aware of what is happening around them.

Gone for a burton

(UK) If something’s gone for a burton, it has been spoiled or ruined. If a person has gone for a burton, they are either in serious trouble or have died.

Gone pear-shaped

(UK) If things have gone pear-shaped they have either gone wrong or produced an unexpected and unwanted result.

Gone to pot

If something has gone to pot, it has gone wrong and doesn’t work any more.

Gone to the dogs

If something has gone to the dogs, it has gone badly wrong and lost all the good things it had.

Good antennae

Someone with good antennae is good at detecting things.

Good as gold

If children are as good as gold, they behave very well.

Good egg

A person who can be relied on is a good egg. Bad egg is the opposite.

Good fences make good neighbours

This means that it is better for people to mind their own business and to respect the privacy of others.  (‘Good fences make good neighbors’ is the American English spelling.)

Good hand

If you are a good hand at something, you do it well.

Good Samaritan

A good Samaritan is a persoon wh helps others in need.

Good shape

If something’s in good shape, it’s in good condition. If a person’s in good shape, they are fit and healthy.

Good spell

A spell can mean a fairly or relatively short period of time; you’ll hear weather forecasts predict a dry spell. Sports commentators will say that a sportsperson is going through a good spell when they’re performing consistently better than they normally do.

Good time

If you make good time on a journey, you manage to travel faster than you expected.

Good to go

Someone or something that meets one’s approval. ‘He is good to go.’ ‘The idea you had is good to go.’

Good walls make good neighbours

Your relationship with your neighbours depends, among other things, on respecting one another’s privacy.

Goody two-shoes

A goody two-shoes is a self-righteous person who makes a great deal of their virtue.

Grab the bulls by its horns

If you grab (take) the bull by its horns, you deal head-on and directly with a problem.

Grain of salt

If you should take something with a grain of salt, you shouldn’t necessarily believe it all. (‘pinch of salt’ is an alternative)

Grasp the nettle

(UK) If you grasp the nettle, you deal bravely with a problem.

Grass may be greener on the other side but it’s just as hard to mow

‘The grass may be greener on the other side but it’s just as hard to mow’ is an expression used to mean a person’s desire to have that which another person has in the belief it will make their life easieris false as all situations come with their own set of problems.

Grass roots

This idioms is often used in politics, where it refers to the ordinary people or voters. It can be used to mean people at the bottom of a hierarchy.

Grass widow

A grass widow is a woman whose husband is often away on work, leaving her on her own.

Graveyard shift

If you have to work very late at night, it is the graveyard shift.

Gravy train

If someone is on the gravy train, they have found and easy way to make lots of money.

Grease monkey

A grease monkey is an idiomatic term for a mechanic.

Grease someone’s palm

If you grease someone’s palm, you bribe them to do something.

Grease the skids

If you grease the skids, you facilitate something.

Greased lightning

If something or someone moves like greased lightning, they move very fast indeed.

Great guns

If something or someone is going great guns, they are doing very well.

Great Scott

An exclamation of surprise.

Great unwashed

This is a term used for the working class masses.

Great white hope

Someone who is expected to be a great success is a great white hope.

Greek to me

If you don’t understand something, it’s all Greek to you.

Green around the gills

If someone looks green around the gills, they look ill.

Green fingers

(UK) Someone with green fingers has a talent for gardening.

Green light

If you are given the green light, you are given approval to do something.

Green thumb

(USA) Someone with a talent for gardening has a green thumb.

Green with envy

If you are green with envy, you are very jealous.

Green-eyed monster

The green-eyed monster is an allegorical phrase for somebody’s strong jealousy


A greenhorn or someone who is described simply as green lacks the relevant experience and knowledge for their job or task

Grey area

A grey/gray area is one where there is no clear right or wrong.

Grey Cardinal

Someone who is a Grey Cardinal exerts power behind the scenes, without drawing attention to himself or herself.

Grey cells

‘Grey cells’ means ‘brain’ Eg: Use your grey cells to understand it

Grey matter

Grey/gray matter is the human brain.

Grey pound

(UK) In the UK, the grey pound is an idiom for the economic power of elderly people.

Grey suits

The men in grey suits are people who have a lot of power in business or politics, but aren’t well-known or charismatic.

Grin and bear it

If you have to grin and bear it, you have to accept something that you don’t like.

Grin like a Cheshire cat

If someone has a very wide smile, they have a grin like a Cheshire cat.

Grinds my gear

Something that is very annoying grinds your gear.

Grist for the mill

Something that you can use to your advantage is grist for the mill. (‘Grist to the mill’ is also used.)


If you are a guinea-pig, you take part in an experiment of some sort and are used in the testing.

Gunboat diplomacy

If a nation conducts its diplomatic relations by threatening military action to get what it wants, it is using gunboat diplomacy.

Gung ho

If someone is gung ho about something, they support it blindly and don’t think about the consequences.

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