American Idioms:
Idioms starting with the letter "G"

Visual letter for text: G idioms, definitions & examples

There are many American idioms and this list contains definitions and examples of idioms that start with the letter "G" (the main word in the phrase starts with a "G"). It's a great place to start but don't worry, I've also listed American idioms beginning with other letters and you can click here to go to the main idioms page

Before you get started, let's make sure that you understand what an idiom is. An idiom is a group of words whose meaning is different from the individual words if you looked them up separately in the dictionary. Let's "get real."  If you really master the English language, you need to learn a lot of idioms.

I've listed some of the most frequently-used American idioms here so you can feel like you're "getting somewhere." You will have to "get it together" and do some studying! So let's "get on with it."  ;)

List of American idioms starting with the letter "G"


ahead of the game:  doing well in a situation and making progress.

  • Example:  I’m always taking training courses so that I can get ahead of the game.

back in the game:  to become involved or active in something again.

  • Example:  After six months of maternity leave, my wife is finally back in the game and returned to work.

someone has got game:  to be really good at doing something, especially sports.

  • Example:  My sister not only plays basketball but she’s got game too.

play the game:  to act in the way everyone expects.

  • Example:  If you want to get promoted in this company, you have to play the game and work really long hours.

the only game in town:  there is only one of its type.

  • Example:  I hate my phone company but they’re the only game in town that offers accounts without a contract.

play games:  to lie or behave dishonestly.

  • Example:  I know my boyfriend is playing games with me because my friend saw him talking to another girl last night but he said he was at home playing video games.


gang up on someone:  when several people unite against another person.

  • Example:  Those girls used to be my friend and then one day they started ganging up on me.


run out of gas:  to completely lose the energy to finish something or continue.

  • Example:  By the time John reached mile five of the marathon, he’d already run out of gas.

step on the gas/step on it:  to work quickly or hurry to complete something.

  • Example:  You better step on it  if you want to mail the letter by 5 PM.


shift gears / switch gears:  to suddenly stop what you’re doing and do something else.

  • Example:  She’d been working in accounting for several years but decided to switch gears and go into public affairs.


the genie is out of the bottle:  information is now known to everyone.

  • Example:  I tried to keep my pregnancy a secret but my secretary found out and now the genie is out of the bottle.


get something across / get across something:  to make something understood.

  • Example:  Could you please let me finish speaking? I’m trying to get my point across but you keep interrupting me.

get ahead:  to achieve success in something.

  • Example:  If you want to get ahead you’re going to have to work smarter not harder.

get along (with someone):  to have a good relationship with someone.

  • Example:  Luckily, my cat and my dog get along very well with each other.

get around something:  to find a different way to avoid a problem or difficult situation.

  • Example:  I’m going to turn here and drive down the side road to try to get around traffic.

get around to doing something:  to find and take the time to do something.

  • Example:  When you get around to doing the grocery shopping can you also pick up my dry cleaning?

get away from it all:  to go to a different place than the usual place (to a place that's less stressful or more peaceful).

  • Example:  Many people go to the beach to get away from it all.

get away with something:  to avoid being punished or blamed for doing something wrong.

  • Example:  Since my little sister is the baby, she gets away with everything.

get back at someone:  to retaliate against someone who did something to you.

  • Example:  My boss got back at me for telling his boss he was late.

get by:  to have just enough to survive.

  • Example:  He couldn’t get by as an artist so he also waits tables at the restaurant.

get in:  to arrive somewhere.

  • Example:  I’d like to take the train that gets in at 3:50 PM on Wednesday.

get something in /get in something:  to find the time to do something.

  • Example:  I have to find the time to get a workout in at the gym this afternoon.

get it together:  to become organized or prepared.

  • Example:  Get it together quickly or you're going to lose your job!

get lost (slang):  go away.

  • Example:  I wanted to play with my brother but he told me to get lost.

get off easy/lightly:  to not be punished as much as expected.

  • Example:  My boss stole $50,000 from the company but he got off easythey simply fired him rather than contact the police.


get on with something:  to start or begin something.

  • Example:  I don't want to do my homework but I have to do it so I may as well get on with it.

get out of something / get out of doing something:  to avoid having to do something you are supposed to do.

  • Example:  I pretended I forgot my swimsuit so I got out of swim class today.

get real:  to be realistic; to see things the way the really are not pretend something else is happening.

  • Example:  If you want to be the quarterback of the football team you need to get real and start working out and practicing every day.

get sth out of sb  to cause someone to tell you something or provide information.

  • Example:  The police interrogated the murderer for two days until they got a confession out of him.

get something over with:  to finish something that you don't want to do.

  • Example:  I'm going to get my homework over with so I can watch TV tonight and not feel guilty about it.

get somewhere/anywhere:  to make progress.

  • Example:  You've got to work 80 hour weeks if you want to get  somewhere in corporate law.

get through to someone:  1) to connect a call and speak to someone on the phone;  2) to make someone understand you.

  • Example:  I keep trying to get through to the airlines but the line is always busy and no one answers.

from the get-go:  from the beginning or start.

  • Example:  I hated my roommate from the get-go. I cannot wait until the year is over.


give and take:  a situation where a person(s) give something in order to get something from someone else.

  • Example:  Finding a language partner is a give and take.  You can't just speak in the  language you want to learn and not let the other person practice too.

give in (to sb/sth):  to agree to something you previously didn't agree to.

  • Example:  My parents always give in if I keep asking them the same thing over and over again.

give it to someone straight:  to tell someone bad or difficult information honestly and directly.

  • Example:  I'm glad that the doctor gave it to you straight so you can understand how important it is to reduce stress and get more rest.

give or take:  approximately a certain amount.

  • Example:  It will take an hour, give or take,  to drive downtown during rush hour traffic or just 20 minutes if we wait until this evening.

give out:  1) to be completely finished or not of use anymore; 2) to stop working.

  • Example:  After three years, my favorite pair of boots finally gave out  and I had to throw more

give up:  to stop trying to achieve something and accept failure.

  • Example:  Winners never give up until they succeed.

give up something / give something up:  to stop doing or having something.

  • Example:  After I got pregnant I had to immediately give up smoking.


see the glass half full:  to see a situation as more positive than negative.

  • Example:  I hate people who always see the glass half fullthey're so annoying!

see the glass half empty:  to see a situation as more negative then positive.

  • Example:  I don't know how they stay together! My mom is cheerful and positive about everything and my father normally sees the glass half empty.

through rose-colored glasses:  to see things as better than they really are.

  • Example:  My son has a terrible habit of seeing his singing career possibilities through rose-colored glasses.


glued to something:  concentrating and giving something one's full attention.

  • Example:  My dog is always glued to the door at 6:30 because that's when my father usually arrives home from work.


go all out:  to put all one's energy and resources into something.

  • Example:  When I throw a party, I go all out:  I serve great food and drinks, put up decorations and even give out party favors to guests.

go along with (sb/sth):  to agree to something someone else wants.

  • Example:  I didn't want to move again but I went along with it  because I know my wife really hated our old neighborhood.

go around in circles / go around and around:  1) to move around in a circle;  2) to talk about something without reaching an agreement or decision.

  • Example:  I hate going to management meetings! They always last two hours and the discussions go around in circles.

go back on something:  to fail to keep a promise.

  • Example:  I'm so angry! My parents said I could go to the party Saturday but now they've gone back on their promise.

go easy on someone:  to be gentle and mild with someone.

  • Example:  My daughter is starting her first job tomorrow and I hope they will go easy on her.

go for something: 1) try to obtain or achieve something; 2) to choose something.

  • Example:  There's a new position that opened up in our department and I'm definitely going for it.


heart of gold:  A person who is kind, caring and generous.

  • Example:  My son has a heart of gold and does everything he can to help us out around the house but my daughter is really selfish and unhelpful. I don't know what to do with her!


dig one's own grave:  doing something that will cause you to have problems in the future. 

  • Example:  I dug my own grave by skipping so many classes this semester.


gravy train: a situation where you make a lot of money without doing a lot of work for it.


  • After starting her own business, she was able to hop on the gravy train and enjoy the fruits of her labor.
  • The real estate market has been a gravy train for some investors, but others have lost money when the market crashed.

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More examples of American idioms starting with the letter "G" will be added in the future so make sure to sign-up for my free newsletter so you can know when there are new updates.

You can also find many American idiom definitions with Merriam-Webster's online learner's dictionaries.

Your turn: Let's practice American idioms

I've tried to "get through to you"  just how important idioms are. And now I'm going to "give it to you straight."  You have to practice to learn and remember English. You cannot master the language without using it (and making mistakes). 

So now it's your turn to practice. Get a piece of paper and write an example or two by picking any expression from the American idioms list above.

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