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American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms

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transferred first, in the 1920s, to a police interrogation room equipped with a one-way mirror. By the mid-1900s the expression was being used more broadly.

gold mine

A rich, plentiful source of wealth or some other desirable thing, as in That business proved to be a gold mine, or She's a gold mine of information about the industry. [First half of 1800s]

go light on

hand. see GO EASY, def. 2.

go native

Adopt another people's way of life, especially that of a culture from a less developed country. For example, Ben's decided to go native, sleeping in a hammock and eating all kinds of strange foods.

This expression is closely associated with the often contemptuous view British colonists had of indigenous peoples. [c. 1900]

gone

hand. In addition to the idioms beginning with GONE, also see A GONER; ALL GONE;

DEAD AND BURIED (GONE); FAR GONE; GOING, GOING, GONE; HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW; TO HELL AND GONE. Also see under GO.

gone coon, a Also, a gone goose. A person in a hopeless situation, one who is doomed; a

DEAD DUCK. For example, When he passed me, I knew I was a gone goose.

These terms have survived such synonyms as gone chick, gone beaver, gone horse, and gone gander. Stephen Crane used the first in The Red Badge of Courage (1894): "I'm a gone coon this first time." [Slang; early 1800s]

gone goose

hand. see GONE COON.

gone with the wind

Disappeared, gone forever, as in With these unforeseen expenses, our profits are gone with the wind. This phrase became famous as the title of Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel, which alludes to the Civil War's causing the disappearance of a Southern way of life. It mainly serves as an intensifier of gone.

good

hand. In addition to the idioms beginning with GOOD, also see BAD (GOOD) SORT;

BUT GOOD; DO ANY GOOD; DO GOOD; DO ONE GOOD; FOR GOOD; FOR GOOD MEASURE; GET ON SOMEONE'S GOOD SIDE; GET OUT WHILE THE GETTING IS GOOD; GIVE A GOOD ACCOUNT OF ONESELF; GIVE AS GOOD AS ONE GETS;

HAVE A GOOD COMMAND OF; HAVE A GOOD MIND TO; HAVE A GOOD THING GOING; HAVE A GOOD TIME; HOLD GOOD; ILL WIND (THAT BLOWS NOBODY ANY GOOD); IN ALL GOOD CONSCIENCE; IN BAD (GOOD) FAITH; IN (GOOD)

CONDITION; IN DUE COURSE (ALL IN GOOD TIME); IN GOOD; IN GOOD HANDS; IN GOOD PART; IN GOOD REPAIR; IN GOOD SPIRITS; IN GOOD TIME; IN GOOD WITH; IN SOMEONE'S GOOD GRACES; KEEP (GOOD) TIME; MAKE GOOD; MAKE GOOD TIME; MAKE SOMEONE LOOK GOOD; MISS IS AS GOOD AS A MILE; NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD; NO GOOD; NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS; NOT THE ONLY FISH (OTHER GOOD FISH) IN THE SEA; ONE GOOD TURN DESERVES ANOTHER; ON GOOD TERMS; ON ONE'S BEST (GOOD) BEHAVIOR; PUT IN A GOOD WORD; PUT TO GOOD USE; SHOW SOMEONE A GOOD TIME; SHOW TO (GOOD) ADVANTAGE; SO FAR SO GOOD; STAND IN GOOD STEAD; TAKE IN GOOD PART; THROW GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD; TO GOOD PURPOSE; TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE; TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING; TO THE GOOD; TURN TO (GOOD ACCOUNT); UP TO NO GOOD; WELL AND GOOD; WHAT'S THE GOOD OF; WITH GOOD GRACE; WORLD OF GOOD; YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE. Also see under GOODNESS; GOODS.

good and

Very, as in I'll go when I'm good and ready, or Mike was good and mad at Tom. This phrase is used to intensify the words that follow. [Colloquial; early 1800s]

good as, as

Practically, in effect, almost the same as, as in He as good as promised to buy a new car, or The house is as good as sold. This idiom is very widely used to modify just about any verb, adverb, or adjective. However, it has been used so often with certain words that together they themselves now make up idioms (see the following entries beginning with GOOD AS).

good as done, as

Virtually finished or accomplished, as in Your printing job is as good as done. This idiom was first recorded in 1530.

good as gold, as

Completely genuine; also, well behaved. For example, Her credit is as good as gold, or The children were good as gold. With this alliterative idiom the initial as is sometimes dropped, and nearly always so when behavior is referred to. [Late 1600s]

good as one's word, as

Completely trustworthy, dependable, as in The boss said we could leave early on Friday and she was as good as her word. [Second half of 1500s]

good day Also, good afternoon or evening or morning. Formal ways of saying "Hello" or

"Goodbye." For example, He began rather oddly by addressing the audience with "Good day," or "Good afternoon, ladies,'' said the sales clerk as we walked out. All these greetings represent an abbreviation of the now obsolete God give you a good day (afternoon, etc.), which dates from about 1200. Also see GOOD NIGHT.

good deal, a Also, a great deal. 1. A large but indefinite quantity, as in He has a good

(or great) deal of money; also, to a large extent or degree, as in "I bled . . . a great deal" (from Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, 1719). Also see GOOD MANY. 2. A very successful

transaction or business agreement; a bargain. For example, The new agent got him a great deal, or Only $50,000 for all that land? That's a good deal. [Colloquial; mid-1800s]

good egg, a Also, a good scout. An amiable, basically nice person. For example, You can always count on her to help; she's a good egg, or His friends all think Dad's really a good scout.

This colloquial antonym of BAD EGG dates from the early 1900s, as did the variant.

good evening

hand. see under

good faith

hand. see under

good for

GOOD DAY.

IN BAD FAITH.

1. Beneficial to, as in Milk is good for children. [Tenth century A.D.] 2. Financially reliable,

able to pay or repay, as in They know he's good for a big tip. [Mid-1800s] 3. Able to serve or continue to function, as in This furniture's good for at least ten more years, or I hope you're not tired?

I'm good for another three miles or so. [Mid-1800s] 4. Equivalent in value; also, valid for. For example, These cou

pons are good for a 20 percent discount, or This contract is good for the entire life of the book.

[Second half of 1800s] 5. good for someone. An expression of approval, as in Good for Bill?

he's sold the car, or Good for you! You passed the exam. This usage differs from the others in that orally a slight emphasis is placed on you or whoever is being mentioned. [Mid-1800s]

good graces

hand. see IN ONE'S GOOD GRACES.

good grief

An exclamation expressing surprise, alarm, dismay, or some other, usually negative emotion. For example, Good grief! You're not going to start all over again, or Good grief! He's dropped the cake.

The term is a euphemism for "good God." [Early 1900s]

good head on one's shoulders, have a

Be intelligent or shrewd; have good sense or good judgment. For example, We can depend on George to figure it out?

he has a good head on his shoulders. This term originated in the 1500s as have an old head on young shoulders, alluding to the wisdom of age and physical youth. It took its present form in the 1800s.

good life, the

A wealthy, luxurious style of living. For example, Aunt Agatha left them a fortune, so now they're enjoying the good life. [Mid-1900s]

good luck

1. Good fortune or a happy outcome, especially by chance. For example, It was sheer good luck that brought this offer my way, or, as Shakespeare put it in The Merry Wives of Windsor (3:5): "As good luck would have it, comes in one Mistress Page." [Late 1400s] 2. Also, good luck to you. I wish you success. This term is used both straight-forwardly, as in Good luck on your journey, and sarcastically, implying that what someone is undertaking is not likely to succeed, as in If you think you'll find that long-lost letter, good luck to you.

good many, a Also, a great many. A large number of, as in A good many checks have come in already, or We saw only a few hikers on the trail, when we had thought there would be a great many. The first term dates from the early 1800s, the variant from the late 1600s. Also see A LOT;

QUITE A BIT (FEW).

good mind

hand. see HAVE A GOOD MIND.

good morning

hand. see under GOOD DAY.

good nature

A cheerful, obliging disposition, as in Ted is known for his good nature? he's always willing to help. [Mid1400s]

goodness

hand. In addition to the idioms beginning with GOODNESS, also see FOR THE SAKE

OF, def. 3; GOD (GOODNESS) KNOWS; HONEST TO GOD (GOODNESS); MY GOD (GOODNESS).

goodness gracious Also, good gracious; gracious sakes. Exclamation of surprise, dismay, or alarm, as in Goodness gracious! You've forgotten your ticket. Both goodness and gracious originally

alluded to the good (or grace) of God, but these colloquial expressions, which date from the 1700s, are not considered either vulgar or blasphemous.

goodness knows

hand. see GOD KNOWS.

good night

1. Expression of farewell used when parting at night or when going to sleep, as in He stood at the door, saying good night to each of the departing guests, or Mother came to tuck the children in and kiss them good night. [Late 1300s] 2. Exclamation of surprise or irritation, as in Good night, Joe!?

You can't mean what you said, or Good night, Anne?

it's time you learned how to throw a ball. [Late 1800s]

good riddance Also, good riddance to bad rubbish. A welcome loss or departure. This expression is often used as an exclamation. For example, The principal has finally retired,

and most of the teachers are saying, "Good riddance!" or When Jean decided to give up her violin her relieved family quietly said, "Good riddance to bad rubbish." [Late 1700s]

goods

hand. see DAMAGED GOODS; DELIVER THE GOODS; GET THE GOODS ON; SELL A BILL OF GOODS; STRAIGHT GOODS.

good Samaritan

A compassionate person who unselfishly helps others, as in In this neighborhood you can't count on a good Samaritan if you get in trouble. This expression alludes to Jesus's parable about a Samaritan who rescues and cares for a stranger who had been robbed and badly hurt and had been ignored by a priest and a Levite (Luke 10:30-35). The Samaritans were considered a heretical group by other Jews, so by using a Samaritan for the parable, Jesus chose a person whom his listeners would find least likely to be worthy of concern. [c. 1600]

good scout

hand. see GOOD EGG.

good sort

hand. see under BAD SORT.

good thing

hand. see HAVE A GOOD THING GOING.

good time

hand. see HAVE A GOOD TIME.

good-time Charlie

Affable, convivial fellow, as in Joe was a typical good-time Charlie, always ready for a party.

[Colloquial; 1920s]

good turn

A favor, an act of good will, as in Pat did her a good turn by calling in a second surgeon. [First half of 1400s]

good word

hand. see PUT IN A GOOD WORD.

good works

Acts of charity, kindness, or good will, as in She spent much of her life in doing good works, especially for the homeless. This expression, also put as good work, originally had the theological meaning of an act of piety. Today it is used in a more general context. [c. A.D. 1000]

goody two-shoes

A prudish, self-righteous individual, a goody-goody. For example, Phyllis was a real goody two-shoes, tattling on her friends to the teacher. This expression alludes to the main character of a nursery tale, The History of Goody Two-Shoes (1765), who was so pleased when receiving a second shoe that she kept saying "Two shoes." The goody in the story is short for goodwife but means "goody-goody" in the idiom.

goof around

Fool or play around, engage in horseplay, as in The boys were goofing around in the schoolyard.

[Slang; 1920s]

go off

1. Explode, detonate; also, make noise, sound, especially abruptly. For example, I heard the gun go off, or The sirens went off at noon. This expression developed in the late 1500s and gave rise about 1700 to the related go off half-cocked, now meaning "to act prematurely" but originally referring to the slipping of a gun's hammer so that the gun fires (goes off) unexpectedly. 2. Leave, depart, especially suddenly, as in Don't go off mad, or They went off without saying goodbye. [c. 1600] 3. Keep to the expected plan or course of events, succeed, as in The project went off smoothly. [Second half of 1700s] 4. Deteriorate in quality, as in This milk seems to have gone off. [Late 1600s] 5. Die. Shakespeare used this sense in Macbeth (5:9): "I would the friends we missed were safely arrived.?

Some must go off." 6. Experience orgasm. D.H. Lawrence used this slangy sense in Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928): "You couldn't go off at the same time. . . ." This usage is probably rare

today. Also see GET OFF, def. 8. 7. go off on a tangent. See under ON A TANGENT. 8. go off one's head. See OFF ONE'S HEAD. Also see subsequent

idioms beginning with GO OFF.

go off half-cocked

hand. see GO OFF, def. 1.

go off the deep end

1. Become unduly excited, overwrought, or angry. For example, When he heard about John's smashing into his car, he went off the deep end. [c. 1920] Also see IN DEEP, def. 2. 2. Be

irrationally carried away, act irresponsibly or heedlessly. For example, Just because you like her looks doesn't mean you should go off the deep end and propose. [c. 1920] In both of these colloquial usages deep end alludes to the deep end of a swimming pool.

goof off

Shirk work or responsibility, loaf; fool around. For example, We were supposed to be studying but we were really goofing off, or If you ever feel like goofing off, please call me. This idiom was a

synonym of GOOF UP during World War II, a usage that has died out. [Slang; 1920s] Also see GOOF AROUND.

goof on

Make fun of, mock, as in He was always goofing on his little brother. [Slang; mid 1900s]

goof up

Blunder, make a mistake, spoil. For example, I really goofed up and got all the dates wrong. This expression emerged in the military during World War II, along with the synonymous GOOF OFF.

Quite often up is omitted, as in Sorry, I goofed. [Slang; c. 1940]

go on

1. Happen, take place, as in What's going on here? [Early 1700s] 2. Continue, as in The show must go on. [Late 1500s] 3. Keep on doing; also, proceed, as in He went on talking, or She may go on to become a partner. [Second half of 1600s] 4. Act, behave, especially badly. For example, Don't go on like that; stop kicking the dog. [Second half of 1700s] 5. Also, go on and on; run on. Talk volubly, chatter, especially tiresomely. For example, How she does go on! The first usage dates from the mid-1800s; run on appeared in Nicholas Udall's Ralph Roister Doister (c. 1553): "Yet your tongue can run on." 6. An interjection expressing disbelief, surprise, or the like, as in Go on, you

must be joking! [Late 1800s] 7. Approach; see GOING ON. 8. Use as a starting point or as evidence, as in The investigator doesn't have much to go on in this case.

[Mid-1900s] 9. go on something. Begin something, as in go on line, meaning "start to use a computer," or go on a binge, meaning "begin to overdo, especially drink or eat too much."

go on and on

1. See GO ON, def. 5. 2. Continue without stopping, last for a long time, as in This trail goes on and on, or The movie went on and on. This usage was first recorded in 1938.

go one better

Outdo or surpass someone, as in He went one better than his teacher and came up with five more famous scientists. This expression originated in gambling games, where it meant "to offer a higher stake than one's opponent." [Mid-1800s] go one's way Also, go one's own way. 1. Do what one pleases, especially differing from what others are doing, as in You go your way and I'll go mine, or He always insisted on going his own way. This expression, dating from about 1400, originally alluded to moving on in a particular direction. It can still do so, as in The delivery truck went on its way. By the late 1500s it was also being used figuratively. 2. Proceed according to one's plans or wishes, as in Let's hope things will go my way this time. Applied to both events and people's actions, this thought is often expressed as everything's going one's way or going my way. For example, With her husband in charge, everything's going her way, or I trust you'll be going my way when we vote on this issue.

go on line

hand. see GO ON, def. 9.

go on record

Embrace a position publicly. For example, I want to go on record in favor of the mayor's reelection. It is also put as for the record, as in For the record, we support sending troops there. The record in both signifies either

publication or public knowledge. Both expressions date from the first half of the 1900s, although slightly different phrases, such as put on record, are older. Also see JUST FOR THE

RECORD; OFF THE RECORD.

goose

hand. In addition to the idioms beginning with GOOSE, also see COOK SOMEONE'S

GOOSE; GONE COON (GOOSE); KILL THE GOOSE THAT LAID THE GOLDEN EGGS; SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE; WILD GOOSE CHASE.

goose egg

Zero, nothing, especially a score of zero. For example, Our team did badly, earning goose egg, or

My income from writing this year was goose egg. This expression is an Americanization of the earlier British duck's egg. [Mid-1800s]

goose pimples Also, goose bumps or flesh. Temporary rough skin caused by small raised bumps. For example, Horror movies always give me goose pimples, or She tends to get goose bumps whenever she goes to the dentist. This expression likens the skin of a plucked goose to the condition of human skin when a person is cold or afraid. [Early 1800s]

go out

LOSE ONE'S

1. Be extinguished, as in All the lights went out. [c. 1400] 2. Die; also, faint. For example, I want to go out before I become senile, or At the sight of blood he went out like a light. The first usage dates from about 1700 and was at first put go out of the world. For the variant, see under OUT

COLD. 3. Take part in social life outside the home, as in We go out a lot during the holiday season. This usage dates from the second half of the 1700s and gave rise to go out with someone, meaning "to date someone." 4. Stop working, as in To show their support of the auto workers, the steel workers went out too. This expression is short for go out on strike. [Late 1800s] 5. Become unfashionable, as in Bell-bottom pants went out in the 1970s but made a comeback in the 1990s.

This usage is sometimes amplified to go out of fashion or go out of style, as in

This kind of film has gone out of fashion, or These boots are going out of style.

[Late 1400s] 6. Cease to function as before. This sense appears in go out of print, said of a book that will no longer be printed. Also see the subsequent idioms beginning with GO OUT.

go out for

Seek to become a participant in, as in I'm going out for soccer. [First half of 1900s] Also see GO

FOR, def. 3; GO IN FOR, def. 2.

go out of fashion hand. Also, go out of style. See under GO OUT, def. 5.

go out of one's mind

Lose one's mental stability, become insane, as in After he heard that the ore he had mined was worthless, the prospector went out of his mind. This phrase is often used as a humorous exaggeration, as in I'm going out of my mind reading these proofs. The phrase out of one's mind dates from the late 1300s, and was used with go shortly thereafter. Also see

MIND.

go out of one's way

Inconvenience oneself or take extra trouble to do something beyond what is required. For example, He went out of his way to introduce me to everyone there, or She went out of her way to be kind. This usage alludes to deviating from one's intended path or normal procedures. [Mid-1700s]

go out the window

hand. see

go out with

hand. see

go over

OUT THE WINDOW.

GO OUT, def. 3; GO WITH.

1. Examine, review. For example, They went over the contract with great care, or I think we should go over the whole business again. This term originated in the late 1500s, then meaning "consider in sequence." 2. Gain acceptance or approval, succeed, as in I hope the play goes over. This term is sometimes elaborated to go over big or go over with a bang for a big success, and go over like a lead balloon for a dismal failure. [Early 1900s] 3. Rehearse, as in Let's go over these lines one more time. [Second half of 1700s]

go overboard

Show excessive enthusiasm, act in an excessive way. For example, It's easy to go overboard with a new stock offering, or She really went overboard, hiring the most expensive caterer. [Mid-1900s]

go over someone's head

hand. see OVER ONE'S HEAD.

go places

Make progress, succeed, as in I suspect they'll be going places with the new product, or Now that she has her doctorate I'm sure she'll go places. [Colloquial; early 1900s]

go public

Become a publicly held company, that is, issue ownership shares in the form of stock. For example,

As soon as the company grows a little bigger and begins to show a profit, we intend to go public.

[Mid1900s]

go right

Succeed, happen correctly, as in If everything goes right, we should be in Canada by Tuesday, or

Nothing has gone right for me today. This idiom uses right in the sense of "in a satisfactory state," a usage dating from the mid-1600s.

go right through one

hand. see under GO THROUGH ONE.

go so far as to Also, go as far as to. Proceed to the point of doing something. For example, I wouldn't go so far as to call him incompetent, but he does need supervision, or Would she go as far as to sell the house before she's found another?

go south

Deteriorate or decline, as in The stock market is headed south again. This expression is generally thought to allude to compasses and two-dimensional maps where north is up and south is down. However, among some Native Americans, the term was a euphemism for dying, and possibly this sense led to the present usage. [Slang; first half of 1900s] Also see GO WEST.

gospel truth

Something that is unquestionably true. For example, Every word he uttered was the gospel truth.