The word ‘go’ can mean many different things. As a verb, the meaning involves movement from one place to another or to leave.
- I’m going to Lapland on Sunday. (movement)
- Go away! You’re being annoying. (leave)
Go is an irregular verb. The past tense is went and the past participle is gone.
idioms list with ‘go’
- easy come, easy go – you aren’t bothered about losing something (especially money)
e.g. My girlfriend dumped me, easy come, easy go.
- go ape shit – become angry and violent
e.g. My mum is going to go ape shit when she finds out I spilt wine on the sofa.
- go at something hammer and tongs – emphatically/energetically/violently
e.g. The cat and dog are going at it hammer and tongs, one of them will end up hurt.
- go back a long way/go way back – have known each other/been friends for a long time
e.g. Chris and Chester go back a long way, they’ll soon make friends again.
- go bananas – become crazy
e.g. The dogs will go bananas when Rick comes home. They haven’t seen him for 3 months.
- go belly up – go spectacularly wrong
e.g. – My new business venture went belly up in the first 6 months. I’m back working in a factory.
- go berserk – go crazy
e.g. My little sister drew all over the freshly painted walls. My mum went absolutely berserk.
- go bust – become bankrupt
e.g. So many shops on the high street are going bust. The rent is too high.
- go cold turkey – completely stop taking a substance
e.g. I’ve quit smoking. It was easy, I just went cold turkey.
- go down a storm – greatly received by the audience
e.g. That Malibu punch you made last night went down a storm.
- go down the drain – fail, disappear, be destroyed
e.g. My marriage went down the drain a long time ago.
- go downhill – deteriorate
e.g. Grandpa is rapidly going downhill. You had better go to the hospital straight away.
- go Dutch – split the cost equally (usually a meal)
e.g. I insisted we go Dutch, but he paid in the end.
- go for broke – put all your effort/resources into one thing in the hope of great success
e.g. Rangers are going for broke in the final 15 minutes. They desperately need a draw.
- go for the jugular – attack someone where it will hurt them the most
e.g. Marie wanted full custody, so she went for the jugular and brought up Scott’s drug addiction.
- go full circle – return to the original situation/circumstance where you first started
e.g. Terry’s career is going full circle. He’s about to start managing his first ever club again.
- go hard or go home – put in all your effort or don’t bother
e.g. I’ve put all my savings into my new business. It’s go hard or go home.
- go in one ear and out the other – something is heard then forgotten
e.g. Teenagers are useless. Anything I tell my two goes in one ear and out the other.
- go into overdrive – start working very quickly
e.g. We’ve got two books being released this week. Our printers have gone into overdrive.
- go nuts – become crazy/angry
e.g. My aunt went nuts so the men in white coats took her away.
- go off the rails – become crazy, wild, unhinged, uncontrollable
e.g. My son has started hanging around with older boys. I’m afraid he will go off the rails.
- go out of business – a company stops trading and closes
e.g. If you continue to give away free products, I’ll go out of business.
- go out of fashion – become unfashionable, stop being popular
e.g. I wish skinny jeans would go out of fashion, they don’t suit me.
- go out on a limb – take a risk for something you believe in
e.g. The lawyer went out on a limb for the defendant as he knew he wasn’t guilty.
- go out the window – disappear
e.g. As soon as I’ve had a drink, my common sense goes out the window.
- go out with someone – date/have a relationship with someone I’m not going out with TJ anymore. I’m going out with Sam now.
- go overboard – be too excessive/extreme
e.g. You’ve bought 16 bottles of wine for 5 people? You always go overboard.
- go pear shaped – go wrong, fail
e.g. I should have been going to Italy tomorrow, but it’s all gone pear shaped.
- go red – your face turns red with embarrassment
e.g. Paul went red when he forgot his lines in front of the whole school.
- go round in circles – do something for a long time without progressing
e.g. I can’t find a solution, I’m just going round in circles.
- go round the houses – a very long complicated way of reaching a conclusion
e.g. I hate Mr. Oxley’s classes. He always goes round the houses and makes it difficult.
- go separate ways – end a romantic/business/professional relationship
e.g. I think it’s best if they go their separate ways. They don’t gel as business partners.
- go spare – get very angry
e.g. Leave your wet clothes in the porch. Mum will go spare if you get the new carpet dirty.
- go steady with someone – date one person regularly
e.g. My son has grown up, he’s going steady with a girl and has a job.
- go the distance – persist until the end without quitting
e.g. He’s a great tennis player. I think he’ll go the distance.
- go the extra mile – make an extra effort to achieve something
e.g. Lauren is a good nurse. She always goes the extra mile to make patients feel at ease.
- go the whole hog – be thorough, complete, extravagant
e.g. I’ve been suspended from school. I may as well go the whole hog and get expelled.
- go through a rough patch – experience difficulty in a business/relationship
e.g. We went through a rough patch but now our relationship is stronger than ever.
- go through the roof – prices/figures get extremely high or suddenly get mad/angry/excited
e.g. Petrol prices have gone through the roof recently. I need a car with a smaller engine.
- go tits-up – go wrong
e.g. We were winning until the final 10 minutes then it all went tits-up. They scored 3.
- go to one’s head – something makes you feel more important than others
e.g. Now Richard is in charge, I’m afraid the power will go to his head.
- go to pot – deteriorate
e.g. My nan’s garden is going to pot, she’s too weak to cut the grass now.
- go to seed – deteriorate, look unhealthy/unattractive/shabby
e.g. I’m too old to do the garden, it’s gone to seed.
- go to the dogs – deteriorate, turn bad
e.g. My town is going to the dogs. The crime rate has risen dramatically in recent years.
- go to the mattresses – go to war using ruthless tactics
e.g. My aunt and uncle are going to the mattresses over custody of their kids.
- go to town on – do something with enthusiasm/energy/speed/in excess
e.g. I went to town on the garden, it’s now ready for summer.
- go under the knife – have an operation/surgery (usually cosmetic)
e.g. My knee surgery is tomorrow. I’m a little scared about going under the knife.
- go weak at the knees – emotion/exhaustion makes you lose strength and feel unstable
e.g. I went weak at the knees after having my belly button pierced. I nearly fainted.
- go with the flow – not resist, follow the choice of most of the group, easy going
e.g. I don`t mind which club we go to, I’m easy, I’ll just go with the flow.
- go without a hitch – happen without any problems
e.g. The CEO came today, luckily the whole day went without a hitch.
- go-getter – an ambitious person who is determined to succeed
e.g. I don’t think I stand a chance. All the other candidates were go-getters.
- going places – a person who is likely to become successful
e.g. Henry has so many business ideas. He’s going places.
- happy-go-lucky – a happy/cheerful/carefree person
e.g. He was such a happy-go-lucky boy. Something changed since he started big school.
- have a go at someone – start shouting at someone because they have done something wrong
e.g. The teacher had a go at me for throwing paper aeroplanes in class.
- on the go – constantly moving/working
e.g. I had lunch on the go today, I was too busy to stop and relax.
- watch the world go by – enjoy watching people pass by
e.g. I’m going to sit in a coffee shop and watch the world go by.
Let’s see these idioms with pictures and meaning using real-life scenarios.
Hey, did you know the verb ‘go’ has many phrasal verbs. Since you like idioms and phrases, you obviously want to improve your fluency and speak like a native.
Am I right?
I thought you might like to learn the phrasal verbs with ‘go’ too. They are very common in informal English and great to know/be able to understand if you happen to be speaking to a native. We use them all the time, like literally ALL the time.