(v.) Middle English geten
< Old Norse geta
to obtain, beget; cognate with Old English -gietan
(> Middle English yeten
), German -gessen,
to forget; (noun) Middle English:
something gotten, offspring, derivative of the v.
gettable, getable, adjective
1, 2. Get, obtain, acquire, procure, secure
imply gaining possession of something. Get
may apply to coming into possession in any manner, and either voluntarily or not. Obtain
suggests putting forth effort to gain possession, and acquire
stresses the possessing after an (often prolonged) effort. Procure
suggests the method of obtaining, as that of search or choice. Secure
considered in bad taste as a would-be-elegant substitute for get
is, however, when used with discrimination, a perfectly proper word. It suggests making possession sure and safe, after obtaining something by competition or the like. 2.
win, gain. 7.
apprehend, grasp. 10.
induce, dispose. 12.
For nearly 400 years, forms of get
have been used with a following past participle to form the passive voice: She got engaged when she was 19. He won't get accepted with those grades.
This use of get
rather than of forms of to be
in the passive is found today chiefly in speech and informal writing.
In British English got
is the regular past participle of get,
survives only in a few set phrases, such as ill-gotten gains.
In American English gotten,
although occasionally criticized, is an alternative standard past participle in most senses, especially in the senses “to receive” or “to acquire”: I have gotten
) all that I ever hoped for. Have
or has got
in the sense “must” has been in use since the early 19th century; often the have
is contracted: You've got to carry your passport at all times.
The use of have
in the sense of “to possess” goes back to the 15th century; it is also frequently contracted: She's got a master's degree in biology.
These uses are occasionally criticized as redundant on the grounds that have
alone expresses the meaning adequately, but they are well established and fully standard in all varieties of speech and writing. In some contexts in American English, substituting gotten
produces a change in meaning: She's got
) a new job. She's gotten
) a new job. He's got to
) attend the wedding. He's gotten to
(has been allowed
or enabled to
) attend. The children have got
(are suffering from
) the measles. The children have gotten
) the measles.
The use of got
to mean “must” (I got to buy a new suit
) is characteristic of the most relaxed, informal speech and does not occur in edited writing except in representations of speech. Gotta
is a pronunciation spelling representing this use.
The pronunciation [git] /gɪt/ Show IPA
has existed since the 16th century. The same change is exhibited in [kin] /kɪn/ for can and [yit] /yɪt/ for yet. The pronunciation [git] /gɪt/ is not regional and occurs in all parts of the country. It is most common as an unstressed syllable: Let's get going! [lets git-goh-ing] /ˈlɛts gɪtˈgoʊ ɪŋ/ . In educated speech the pronunciation [git] /gɪt/ in stressed syllables is rare and sometimes criticized. When get is an imperative meaning “leave immediately,” the pronunciation is usually facetious: Now get! [nou git] /ˌnaʊ ˈgɪt/ .