American Idioms:
Idioms starting with the letter "G"

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.

  • I’m always taking training courses so that I can get ahead of the game.
  • The software company is constantly making new innovations to stay ahead of the game.

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

  • After six months of maternity leave, my wife is finally back in the game  and returned to work.
  • I hope to be back in the game  very quickly after surgery next month.

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

  • My sister not only plays basketball but she’s got game  too.
  • "Is that your star player?" "Yes, he's got game!"
  • The quarterback of our football team's really got gametoo bad he got suspended for doing drugs.

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

  • If you want to get promoted in this company, you have to play the game  and work really long hours.
  • I played the game  at a corporate law firm and hated it. Then I quit and became a dog walker and I love it.
  • Most singers and actors have to play the game  to succeed in show biz but Madonna does whatever she wants.

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

  • I hate my phone company but they’re the only game in town  that offers accounts without a contract.
  • You're not the only game in town  so you better fix the problem and treat me nicely or I'll go to another company.
  • Luckily the train isn't the only game in town  and I was able t buy a cheap bus ticket to New York at the last minute.

play games:  to lie or behave dishonestly.

  • 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.
  • We told our son that if he continued to play games  we wouldn't let him go to summer camp.
  • Don't play games  with me again or you won't be able to see your friends this weekend.


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

  • Those girls used to be my friend and then one day they started ganging up on me.
  • Everyone ganged up on my colleague  when she suggested a higher sales target next month.


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

  • By the time John reached mile five of the marathon, he’d already run out of gas.
  • I’m going to stay up late to finish this report unless I run out of gas.

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

  • You better step on it  if you want to mail the letter by 5 PM.
  • You’re finished? Yeah, I stepped on the gas  and completed it an hour ago.


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

  • She’d been working in accounting for several years but decided to switch gears  and try out sales.
  • I’ve been talking for 40 minutes so now I’ll shift gears  and take some of your questions.


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

  • I tried to keep my pregnancy a secret but my secretary found out and now the genie is out of the bottle.
  • The genie is out of the bottlemy boss didn’t quit, he was fired.


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

  • Could you please let me finish speaking? I’m trying to get my point across.
  • I have to try harder to get the idea across  to my students that they are responsible for their own learning.

get ahead:  to achieve success in something.

  • If you want to get ahead  you’re going to have to work smarter not harder.
  • My husband is taking an advanced Microsoft Excel course to help him get ahead  at work.

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

  • Luckily, my cat and my dog get along very well with each other.
  • I love my father-in-law but I don’t get along with my mother-in-law  at all.

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

  • I’m going to turn here and drive down the side road to try to get around traffic.
  • I’ll ask our engineering department if they can try to get around this problem.

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

  • When you get around to doing the grocery shopping  can you also pick up my dry cleaning?
  • I hope you get around to doing your homework  today rather than waiting until Sunday evening.

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).

  • Many people go to the beach to get away from it all.  I go to the golf course.
  • My son needs to get away from it all  soon. He's been under a lot of pressure these days.

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

  • Since my little sister is the baby, she gets away with everything.
  • The thief put the frozen turkey under his coat, walked out the store and got away with it.

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

  • My boss got back at me  for telling his boss he was late.
  • If you get back at him  he’s just going to get back at you  and the fighting will never end.

get by:  to have just enough to survive.

  • He couldn’t get by  as an artist so he also waits tables at the restaurant.
  • It was difficult to get by  when I was in law school so my parents gave me $400 extra each month until I graduated.

get in:  to arrive somewhere.

  • I’d like to take the train that gets in  at 3: 50 PM on Wednesday.
  • The director will be getting in  at 4:00 PM so make sure the report is finished by then.

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

  • I have to find the time to get a workout in  at the gym this afternoon.
  • I really have to get in to see the doctor  this week so I can come any day, any time.

get it together:  to become organized or prepared.

  • Get it together  quickly or you're going to lose your job!
  • It was a lot easier to get it together  after I got a smart phone and started using the calendar, reminders and got some helpful apps.

get lost (slang):  go away.

  • I wanted to play with my brother but he told me to get lost.
  • Get lost  and don't ever call me again! I saw you kissing that girl last night.

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

  • My boss stole $50,000 from the company but he got off easilythey simply fired him rather than contacting the police.
  • Don’t expect to get off lightly  if you get caught drinking and driving.


get on with something:  to start or begin something.

  • I don't want to do my homework but I have to do it so I may as well get on with it.
  • Everyone wants to chit chat about stupid stuff but I have work to do so I hope the director gets on with the meeting  soon.

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

  • I pretended I forgot my swimsuit so I got out of swim class  today.
  • If you go to college you can get out of  more than half your military service.

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

  • If you want to be the quarterback of the football team you have to get real  about training instead of dreaming of how great it will be to popular.
  • I was able to get into college because I finally got real  my senior year and stopped spending so much time with my friends instead of studying.
  • Get real!  Your parents aren't going to let you go to school dressed like that.

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

  • The police interrogated the murderer for two days until they finally got a confession out of her.
  • My girlfriend tried to get my phone password out of me  so she could secretly read all my messages and look at my photos.

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

  • I'm going to get my homework over with  so I can watch tv tonight.
  • Eat your vegetables, please. Once you get that over with  you can leave the table.

get somewhere / anywhere:  to make progress.

  • You've got to work 80 hour weeks if you want to get  somewhere  in corporate law.
  • Even though I've been eating right and exercising I'm not getting anywhere  with my diet.

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

  • I keep trying to get through to the airlines  but the number is busy. We have to re-book these tickets by tomorrow.
  • I have no idea how to get through to my teenage daughtershe refuses to really listen to what we're telling her.

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

  • I hated my roommate from the get-go.
  • You are very talented with languages so that's why you very good at speaking English from the get-go.


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

  • Finding a language partner is a give and take.  You can't expect someone to want to only speak English with you and not practice the language they want to learn!
  • Marriage is supposed to be a give and take  but I definitely give much more than I take.

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

  • My parents always give in  if I keep asking them the same thing over and over again.
  • After I explained how important going to seminar was, my boss gave in to my request  to travel to California for the meeting.

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

  • 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.
  • I wish my boss would just give it to me straight  and let me know what I'm doing wrong.

give or take:  approximately a certain amount.

  • 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.
  • The recipe requires either two kilos of apples, give or take, or one large jar of applesauce.

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

  • After three years, my favorite pair of boots finally gave out  and I had to throw them away.
  • I'm never buying a cheap radio againthis one gave out  after just 10 months.

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

  • Winners never give up  until they succeed.
  • I still love my boyfriend but I had to give up  because he was never going to marry me.

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

  • After I got pregnant I had to immediately give up smoking.
  • I had to give up drinking five cups of coffee  a day because of heartburn.  Now I drink herbal tea in the morning.


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

  • I hate people who always see the glass half fullthey're so annoying!
  • When I was depressed it was very hard for me to see the glass half full.

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

  • 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.
  • It's wise to think carefully but if you only see the glass half empty  you'll become cynical.

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

  • My son has a terrible habit of seeing his singing career possibilities through rose-colored glasses.
  • At first I saw my husband through rose-colored glasses  but after a year I realized he was just selfish and arrogant.


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

  • My dog is always glued to the door  at 6:30 because that's when my father usually arrives home.
  • I told Sam dinner's ready but his eyes and ears are glued to the tv.


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

  • 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.
  • The hiring committee went all out  with recruiting and paid for college seniors to fly from across the country for a weekend of presentations and activities.

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

  • I didn't want to move again but I went along with it  because I know my wife really hated our old neighborhood.
  • You always go along with whatever mom wants you to buy  so no wonder you hate your clothes!

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.

  • I hate going to management meetings! They always last two hours and the discussions go around in circles.
  • Instead of parking at the airport I told my wife to meet me outside. Unfortunately, I had to go around the airport in circles  for 45 minutes because her plane was late.

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

  • I'm so angry! My parents said I could go to the party Saturday but now they've gone back on their promise.
  • If we go back on our promise to give everyone a holiday bonus  employee morale will be terrible.

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

  • My daughter is starting her first job tomorrow and I hope they will go easy on her.
  • Please go easy on the new accountant  so she won't quit after the first week like the last two people did.

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

  • There's a new position that opened up in our department and I'm definitely going for it.
  • What are you having? I think I'll go for one  of these salads—they look delicious.


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

  • 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!
  • Our director has a heart of gold—she is friendly to everyone and so considerate.


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

  • I dug my own grave  by skipping so many classes this semester.
  • We knew we were digging our own graves  when we started charging every little thing on our credit cards but at the time we didn't think that we had any other choice.

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. Don't worry if  you make a mistake, I will help correct your sentence. It's that easy. Please write an example or two by picking any expression from the American idioms list above.

› "G" Idioms

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