go for

Idioms & Phrases

go for

  1. Go in order to get, as in I'll go for the paper, or He went for the doctor. This usage, dating from the late 1500s, gave rise to the 20th-century noun gofer, a person who is habitually sent on routine errands.

  2. Be equivalent to or valued as; also, pass for, serve as. For example, All our efforts are going for very little, or That silver went for a lot of money, or That sofa can go for a bed. [Mid-1500s]

  3. Aim or try for, especially making a vigorous effort. For example, They're going for the league championship. This idiom is also put as go for it, as in When Steve said he'd like to change careers, his wife told him to go for it. The related phrase go for broke means "to commit all one's available resources toward achieving a goal," as in Our competitors are going for broke to get some of our accounts. The first expression dates from the mid-1500s; the two colloquial variants from the first half of the 1900s. Also see all out; go out for.

  4. Attack, as in We have to tie up our dog, because he loves to go for letter carriers. A hyperbolic variant, go for the jugular, is used for an all-out attack on the most vital part, as in In political arguments he always goes for the jugular. The jugular is a blood vessel whose rupture is life-threatening. [Colloquial; late 1800s]

  5. Have a special liking for, as in I really go for progressive jazz. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]

  6. Be valid for or applicable to, as in Kevin hates broccoli, and that goes for Dean, too. [Early 1900s] Also see have going for one.

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