get off the ground

Idioms & Phrases

get off the ground

Make a start, get underway, as in Because of legal difficulties, the construction project never got off the ground. This expression, alluding to flight, dates from the mid-1900s. The similar-sounding get off to a flying start, meaning "make a successful start," alludes not to flight but to a quick start in a race, a usage from the late 1800s. For example, He's off to a flying start with his dissertation.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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