Get around

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One needs to be careful when using a phrasal verb that has a wide range of possible meanings.  For example, if you're corresponding with a woman who travels a lot and you comment, wishing to commend her mobility, "You sure do get around a lot", she may be offended and retort, "Are you saying that I'm sexually promiscuous?"

get around


get around (third-person singular simple present gets around, present participle getting around, simple past got around, past participle (UK) got around or (US) gotten around)

    1. To move to the other side of (something, such as an obstruction) by deviating from a direct course or following a curved path.
      The tide was too high, and we couldn't get around the rocks.
      There's no trail going through. We can't get around to the lake.
      We'll get a good view of the mountains when we get around the bend.
    2. (figuratively) To avoid or bypass an obstacle.
      Tax consultants look for ways to get around the law.
    3. To circumvent the obligation and performance of a chore; to get out of.
      How did you get around having to write the executive report?
      My brother always gets around cleaning his room himself.
    4. To transport oneself from place to place.
    • How's he gonna get around without a car?
      Granny uses a wheelchair to get around.
    • To visit numerous different places.
    • (slang) To be sexually promiscuous.
      Wow, she really gets around.
    • Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see get,‎ around.


Can't be too cautious.


Selected readings


  1. Jerry Packard said,

    April 19, 2024 @ 7:21 am

    ‘Round round, get around, I get around.’

    So it also means something like ‘to have a lot of social contacts.’

  2. rpsms said,

    April 19, 2024 @ 9:54 am

    "How's tricks?" is potentially a problem as well. I think younger people are less familiar with the older more general usage and think it is accusation of prostitution.

  3. Roscoe said,

    April 19, 2024 @ 12:23 pm

    There’s a similar misunderstanding in an early episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” where Larry inadvertently reveals a friend’s serial adultery.

  4. Phillip Helbig said,

    April 19, 2024 @ 1:46 pm

    The Beach Boys walk into a bar.
    "Get a round?"
    "I'll get a round…”

  5. Chips Mackinolty said,

    April 19, 2024 @ 8:11 pm

    Then there's "I'll get a round" when it's your turn to buy a round of drinks in a bar/pub

  6. Cervantes said,

    April 20, 2024 @ 11:21 am

    How do you explain it to people when your friend actually buys the farm he's been renting?

    Yep, this actually happened. My friend Brian bought the farm, and he's doing great.

  7. DaveK said,

    April 20, 2024 @ 7:26 pm

    Wiktionary doesn’t include one of the most common usages: “get around to a task” meaning “to deal with it eventually”, as in “I’ll get around to the repair work tomorrow”. A phrase beloved by procrastinators everywhere.

  8. Philip Taylor said,

    April 21, 2024 @ 3:51 am

    Or in Cornwall, "I'll do it dreckly", where "dreckly" is the local pronunciation of "directly" but means anything but …

    Cervantes, I did not understand your comment about buying a farm — is there some metaphor or proverbs concerning that idea with which I am unfamiliar ?

  9. Nat said,

    April 21, 2024 @ 5:48 am

    @Philip Taylor
    Neither. But there is a common U.S. idiom.

  10. Mark Young said,

    April 21, 2024 @ 8:06 am

    @Philip Taylor
    This parrot has bought the farm.

  11. Jerry Packard said,

    April 21, 2024 @ 8:11 am

    ‘bought the farm’ means ‘die’ in US slang.

  12. cer said,

    April 21, 2024 @ 10:30 am

    I'll do it, when I get a round tuit.

  13. Colin Watson said,

    April 21, 2024 @ 3:48 pm

    @DaveK: it does – it just puts that sense under, linked as a derived term from "get around".

  14. Josh R. said,

    April 21, 2024 @ 7:06 pm

    Some years ago an acquaintance of mine bought a farm, and then fell from the roof of his house while making some repairs. He was hurt but ultimately all right. But you can be sure that many jokes were made about his taking "bought the farm" too figuratively.

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